Cuts ‘to hit most in need’: crisis warning as council looks to reduce disability budget

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Carers of disabled children have warned that families will be thrown into crisis by spending cuts.

Warwickshire County Council plans to reduce its Integrated Disability Service budget by £1.7m.

The money is spent on giving parents and carers of severely disabled children respite, emotional support and family breaks. But the saving is soon up for consultation, and the reduction was approved at the council’s budget meeting last month.

One single mother of three from Rugby, with two children at Brooke School, told the Advertiser: “Speaking from personal experience this service stops vulnerable families sliding into crisis - ask anyone who uses the service and they will tell you that if it ceases to exist, families in Rugby will break down and people’s lives turned upside down.”

She added: “Not only will there be a huge cost in terms of human suffering, but also in financial terms when local authorities have to save those who have fallen into crisis. My opinion is that cutting these services will cost more in the long term and hurt countless families across the county.”

She said that if it wasn’t for her key worker, which was funded by the IDS, then she wouldn’t cope.

“I honestly don’t know if I would be here without that help - I know we would no longer be able to function together as a family.”

The services that will be affected will include a short breaks services, family key worker services, social care services and commissioned services such as any by Take a Break that are funded by IDS.

Lorna Pepler, a mother from Southam and editor of the IDS Parent and Carer Steering Group newsletter, said: “Thousands of children throughout the whole of the county rely on IDS for their support. There is a huge concern that potentially, the quality of thousands of children’s lives will be at risk in the near future and families will be thrown into crisis.”

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: “Warwickshire County Council’s budget in February included a savings target of £1.7m for the Integrated Disability Service.

“A large proportion of the savings will be internal with no impact on frontline service, but the council will also consult on a modernisation and redesign programme for the service. This will focus on those with greatest need and aim to offer more choice and control to families when accessing support.

“The 12-week consultation will begin in May, with final decisions on changes to the service to be approved by the Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet in September.

“The county council is keen for parent and carer representatives to be part of the whole process and contribute to the redesign plans.”