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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
340m package for carer families
Boy in wheelchair
Charities say many carers are close to breaking point
Families caring for disabled children are to receive 340m to help improve their lives, Economic Secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls has announced.

Over the next three years, money will be spent on improving childcare and support for parents struggling to cope.

It will also fund 40,000 short breaks for young people with complex needs to give their families a rest.

Charities backing the Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) campaign called the move "a huge step forward".

But they said it should be seen as a "down payment on the longer term change required".

Campaigners from EDCM say there are 100,000 families in England alone providing substantial care to disabled children.

And research has suggested eight out of 10 are close to breaking point because of a lack of support.

'National priority'

Unveiling the package, Mr Balls said it was "a significant step" in the government's mission to "transform the life chances of disabled children and their families".

And he insisted disabled children were a "national priority".

Chief executive of Mencap Dame Jo Williams said: "Currently, only one in 13 families get any form of specialist support in caring for their disabled child.

"This announcement means that by 2011 many more families will be getting the support they need.

Currently, only one in 13 families get any form of specialist support in caring for their disabled child
Dame Jo Williams

"This is a huge step forward, but it also needs to be seen as a down payment on the longer-term change required."

Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, Children's Commissioner for England, said the money was "a good start".

"There is still much to be done, not least because children and young people with disabilities and their families have had to struggle for far too long to ensure that their children receive the services and the support that they need."

A separate study suggested that 2.2 million people in the UK have given up full-time work to care for children or other dependants during the past three years.

The survey by Lincoln Financial found that 15% of adults said they had changed jobs or working since 2004 to allow them to become carers, with approximately a third of them having given up a full-time post.


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