Chancellor misses opportunity to support families caring for a seriously ill child

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity is deeply disappointed that the needs of families with seriously ill children were not addressed in today’s Spending Review from the Chancellor, despite calls for new funding to ensure families can access Short Breaks and respite services.

Responding to the immense economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £3 billion for the NHS, and new money for adult and children’s social care, which he calculates at £2 billion. A new £4 billion ‘Levelling Up Fund’ was announced, which local areas will be able to bid for to pay for infrastructure projects. Today’s spending plans also include £300 million for new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities in 2021-22.

However, the estimated gap in funding for social care is far from being filled, according to think tanks and the care sector, and Local Authority budgets will remain under significant pressure.

Rainbow Trust’s Chief Executive Zillah Bingley said:

“The Chancellor has brought little cheer for families caring for a seriously ill child as Christmas approaches. The vital importance of emotional and practical support that can help families to cope better at the hardest of times is still not being recognised.

Clearly, public finances are under immense pressure, but while we welcome additional funds for social care, it remains to be seen if this funding will ultimately benefit the relatively small in number, but high in need, families caring for a seriously ill child.

As set out in our recent report, Pandemic Pressures, families need support right now to cope with the ongoing burden of shielding their clinically vulnerable child, caring for healthy siblings and coping with prolonged social isolation and stress.

With the pandemic still with us for months to come, these families’ needs must be acknowledged rather than them feeling ignored.”

Rainbow Trust has been part of calls from across the children’s sector to put #ChildrenAtTheHeart of government spending plans. In the run up to the Spending Review, Rainbow Trust called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to fill the £434 million gap in spending on social care services for disabled and seriously ill children.