Care for disabled children branded inadequate

A new report from the Centre for Policy Studies has warned that the quality of care provided to severely disabled children and their families is "inadequate".

It estimates that there are 49,000 severely disabled children in the UK with 91 per cent living, and being cared for, at home. It claims that the Government has "failed to provide these most needy citizens with an acceptable level of service."

The authors of the report, Florence Heath and Richard Smith, claim that 48 per cent of families with disabled children receive no help from outside the family, and a further 30 per cent receive less than two hours a week.

Overall, 80 per cent believe that health and social services are not well co-ordinated, and note problems with the provision of respite and residential care.

It claims that of the £540 million social services budget for disabled children, a quarter, £140 million, is spent on "assessment and commissioning" tasks.

The report recommends that families of disabled children should receive the money currently spent on commissioning directly, in the form of a non-means tested payment of £115 a week. Families then could chose what sort of care to provide.

Controversially, they also claim that increased regulation of care homes has "aggravated the already poor levels of care" and call for a more "attractive fiscal regime" to be creased by "modernising the regulatory approach".

The authors say that the "Government should not attempt to micro-manage the lives of its citizens, even the most disabled. Rather it should trust the disabled to be able to exercise the right of choice. And it should allow the market to respond to that choice."