Purpose of report
To inform the Cabinet Member for Education of the feedback from the engagement activity carried out regarding the budget pressures to the Targeted Short Breaks and to recommend a way forward.
RECOMMENDED that the Cabinet Member for Education agrees to the steps below which will ensure that Personal Budgets in the form of Prepaid Cards, can continue to be provided to eligible families within the budget available:
a) The value of pre-paid cards is set every year, dependent on the estimated number of applications.
b) Pre-paid cards are only available to those who are not already accessing a specialist short break package.
c) Families will have to apply for a pre-paid card annually.
The report was introduced by Julia Katherine, Head of Inclusion.
In response to questions the following matters were clarified:
· The authority seek applications in February each year and the money is then be allocated to the cards from April. New families who are eligible are informed when their ECHPs are finalised. The application process is straight forward.
· The number of applicants has grown each year; partly because there are more children who are eligible and partly because the authority is more effectively getting the information about pre-paid cards out to families. Currently parents have to apply once and reconfirm each year that they would still like the card. The authority writes to every family directly each year.
· Officers received quite a few phone calls with queries which indicated that families had received the information, but there was not a huge response to the request for feedback on the proposals.
Councillor Norton was very
concerned the impact these proposals would have on families as it
would be a reduced service.
Councillor Horton firstly wished to place on record her thanks to officers for all their work on this report, and also to the parents and everyone who had engaged with the consultation. She felt that this was a really important decision and there was a lot of positive changes proposed in this report. This is a budget pressure coming from a changing landscape with no increase in money.
Councillor Horton felt it was sensible to review the pre-paid card annually. She felt a lot more families may receive something with this proposed change in allocating the funding. She said when she made a decision, she always traced that back to families to identify the impact this would have on them. On two occasions she met families where she felt that the cut of the card would have a negative impact on their quality of life and she had heard examples of things they would no longer be able to do in terms of their respite. She did however meet other families where this proposal wouldn't affect them.
Councillor Horton said she was therefore not happy with recommendation b which was that pre-paid cards are only available to those not accessing a specialist short break package and she wished officers to look further into options for the pre-paid cards. She felt that the other two recommendations were pragmatic and a sensible way to go forward and should start immediately.
The Cabinet Member for Education agreed to the steps below which will ensure that personal budgets in the form of prepaid cards can continue to be provided to eligible families within the budgets available:
1. The value of pre-paid cards is set every year, dependent on the estimated number of applications.
2. Families will have to apply for a pre-paid card annually.