Respite breaks for disabled under review as county care cuts loom

Bicester Advertiser: Toby Staveley of the charity Yellow Submarine Toby Staveley of the charity Yellow Submarine

RESPITE breaks for adults with learning disabilites are being reviewed by Oxfordshire’s social care authority, which is facing millions of pounds of cuts.

Oxfordshire County Council spends £1.2m a year offering the breaks so people with learning disabilities can spend time away from their carers. But because of the “difficult financial climate” this provision is now being reviewed.

Bryan Michell, of Oxford learning disability charity My Life My Choice, expressed concern.

He said: “There are families who have to earn a living and give around-the-clock care to their loved ones, so respite is absolutely crucial to their well-being and health.

It is also good for the person with the learning disability and any reduction will be felt really hard.

“This is a perfect storm. The county council cuts its services and people then come to the voluntary sector for help, but the council is also cutting the money it gives to the voluntary sector.”

Last month My Life My Choice was given David Cameron’s Big Society Award for its work for people with learning disabilities, but it has said cuts from the county council could put it at risk of closure.

About 180 people use the council’s respite break service, which mainly involves overnight stays at various locations within Oxfordshire.

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Central government has told the county council it has to find an extra £61m of savings on top of cuts of £201m already made or committed to up to 2017.

Last week the authority unveiled its budget, which made reductions of £64m, including £7.1m cut from adult social care.

Toby Staveley, manager of charity Yellow Submarine, which offers respite breaks for people with learning difficulties, said: “The impression we get from the county council is that unless a service is seen as essential then it is not being protected any more.

“Respite is valued by the parents and carers and by the people who use it themselves, who get a chance to meet new people. The parents and carers get a chance to recharge their batteries.”

The charity, based in Park End Street, received £10,800 from the Oxford Mail’s owner, Gannett Media, through the Gannett Foundation.

The county council is asking people who use its respite service for feedback to help it target its resources more effectively.

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “Any changes would be determined once opinions have been received and carefully considered along with a review of service usage and best practice.”

  • The county council has started a consultation into its respite break provision. To have your say visit
  • If you could be affected by this review we’d like to hear from you. Call our news desk on 01865 425444 or email


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