This week is Children’s Hospice Week and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children Who Need Palliative Care met to discuss new data on how children’s hospices across England are being funded both charitably and by the state.
Of the 26 children’s hospices in England that have provided information on how much they received from their local authorities for providing care to seriously ill children, they received an average of £126,587.65 each. This represented a welcome 29 per cent increase on the £98,003.97 reported in 2019/20, although is still a small proportion (4 per cent) of the charitable costs incurred by children’s hospices in 2020/21. It is also small considering the proportion of children’s hospice activity that short breaks for respite represents – and the fact that local authorities have a legal duty to ensure disabled children can access short breaks.
Despite the average increase in local authority funding across England, funding varies widely between children’s hospices. Three quarters (74 per cent) of children’s hospices reported a cut or freeze in their local authority funding between 2019/20 and 2020/21. 63 per cent of children’s hospices expect their local authority funding to be cut or frozen between 2020/21 and 2021/22.
The group are therefore calling on HM Treasury to fill the £434 million disabled children’s social care funding gap in England by creating an annual ring-fenced disabled children’s grant. From this, local authorities would be able to make an equitable and sustainable funding contribution to short breaks for seriously ill children.