Council u-turn on charity funding which hit Biggleswade families

MBTC-12-03-14- Autism Bedfordshire.'b14-144''Autism Bedfordshire has been awarded nearly �100,000 from Children In Need.'Childrens Services Team,  Liz McTernan,  Kate Osborne, Peter Tysoe and Chris Stelling. PNL-141203-121723001
MBTC-12-03-14- Autism Bedfordshire.'b14-144''Autism Bedfordshire has been awarded nearly �100,000 from Children In Need.'Childrens Services Team, Liz McTernan, Kate Osborne, Peter Tysoe and Chris Stelling. PNL-141203-121723001

Charity groups which offer support to children and young people with special needs have been given a reprieve over funding cuts.

Last week the Chronicle reported how parents in the area were shocked after hearing of the cuts to services such as Autism Bedfordshire which offers respite care to families of youngsters with special needs.

Central Bedfordshire Council announced in October it was cutting its special grants programme by more than half to groups such as Autism Bedfordshire, Family United Network and Bedford and District Cerebral Palsy.

Instead the council was setting up a personal budget scheme for each individual child.

In a letter to parents, Autism Bedfordshire had warned that it may have to pass on its increased costs to those who used the service which provides respite care for parents. Family United Network warned it may have to close.

Independent Councillor Adam Zerny who last week called for the council to back down, welcomed the changes and said: “This is very welcome news for the charities and the council has done the right thing. These organisations provide vital services to the community and it is right the council should indeed support them financially”

In a statement the council said: “We hugely value the work that our local voluntary sector do to support children and young people with special education needs and/or disabilities and their families, and are committed to support them in their work in Central Bedfordshire.

“Over the last few weeks we have been positively engaging with local voluntary sector organisations and the SNAP Parent Carer Forum in order to ensure continuity of short breaks provision for children and young people in Central Bedfordshire as we move towards a model of personalisation and direct payments.

“As a result, we can confirm we have now stabilised funding to March 2020 to ensure children, young people and their families can continue to access this provision.

“During this period we will continue to work closely with families and voluntary sector organisations to co-develop a personalisation strategy for Central Bedfordshire, with a view to implementing from April 2020.”