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Bristol Budget Cuts to Short Breaks for Disabled Children Threaten Family Stability

Playful illustration of two young girls playing with a tin can telephone

In a recent decision by Bristol City Council, the budget for Short Breaks for Disabled children will be cut by 10% starting next April. This move, initially proposed by the former Labour administration, has been met with strong opposition from parents/carers, charities, and Disabled People’s Organisations like WECIL.

WECIL, which is the lead provider of these essential services, has highlighted the potential for severe consequences, including increased family stress and potential breakdowns. At the Bristol Council Children and Young People Policy Committee meeting on Thursday 27th June, Matt Justice – WECIL’s Head of Children & Young People’s Services, emphasised the vital support that these Short Breaks provide to many families, enabling parents to manage work and personal responsibilities while ensuring the well-being of their Disabled children.

Matt told the committee “We appreciate the financial challenges faced by the council, but strongly believe that cutting this essential support is not the solution. Any cuts mean that some families will go without support so that others can receive it. This could cause increased stress, potential family breakdowns and higher costs for the council in the long term.”

There are already waiting lists for the Short Breaks Services. WECIL’s principle concern is that cuts to funding will only increase the waiting lists of families needing support, or reduce the levels of support that we and our partners, Khaas and FACE, are able to provide.  

Matt went on to say “Parents highlighted that the services provided by Short Breaks are crucial for the health and stability of their families. Feedback included comments such as ‘this is a lifeline’, and ‘we can’t hold down a job without this support’.”

The decision was reluctantly approved by the council’s Children and Young People Policy Committee, despite recognition of the devastating impact it will have on families. Green Councillor Ellie Freeman and Labour Councillor Katja Hornchen expressed their concerns about the significant negative effects on families due to these budget cuts.

WECIL is committed to advocating for the reversal of these cuts and will work with local authorities to highlight the essential nature of these services.

WECIL’s Chair, CEO and Head of Children & Young People’s Services will meet shortly with Councillor Christine Townsend, Chair of the Children and Young People Policy Committee to discuss restoration of funding and protection of the welfare of Disabled children and their families.

For more details on the council’s decision and the response from WECIL, read the full Bristol Post article.

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