On 26 July 2018, Sheffield City Council approved a range of measures designed to save around £550,000 from the city’s short breaks budget. The changes affect the £400 short breaks grant and after-school, holiday and Saturday clubs accessed throught the SNIPS service.
- Eligiblity for the short breaks grant will stop on a young person’s 18th birthday (one year earlier than previously), and only families on means-tested benefits or with a household income below £21,000 per year will be able to apply. In addition, families who take the grant will not be able to access any other short breaks services, such as SNIPS clubs or overnight respite.
- From April 2019, parents of children accessing SNIPS clubs will be charged a financial contribution. For children who attend a universal (mainstream) club, parents will have to pay the cost of the club or activity. SNIPS will continue to fund any additional support the child requires. For children who attend a specialist club which only caters for disabled children, parents will have to pay a contribution of £7 per session. Families on means-tested benefits or with a household income below £21,000 will be exempt.
The measures were subject to a consultation which ran from December 2017 to March 2018 and received 467 responses. You can download the consultation report from the council website.
Our trustees published a position statement in which they expressed serious concerns about the way the consultation was run, how the decision was reached, and the potential impact of the cuts, especially on the most vulnerable families. We shared this paper with several councillors – including Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children and Families – before the final decision was due to be made. Unfortunately, it did not change the outcome.
Update (1st of August 2018): We are pleased to report that councillors have listened to our concerns and have “called in” the decision. This means that the proposed changes will be examined by the Children Young People and Family Support Scrutiny Committee on 3rd September 2018. Whilst this committe cannot overturn the decision, it can make recommendations and refer the matter back to the Executive. All of the changes described above (including the launch of this year’s short breaks grant scheme) have been put on hold until the Scrutiny Committee has looked at the decision.
Do you have concerns, questions or comments about the changes to short breaks? Please get in touch and tell us your views.