Parents protest against disabled after-school club cuts

Campaigners outside County Hall in Lewes

Parents and carers say cuts to after-school and holiday clubs for disabled children in East Sussex could have devastating effects and lead to family breakdowns.

Today a protest against the proposals - which will affect 300 families - was held outside the County Council offices in Lewes. They say there must be other ways the authority can save money.

Charlotte Wilkins has been to meet one family who say if the clubs close - their life line will be cut.

In a statement, East Sussex County Council said:

"Although not something we have a statutory duty to provide, the county council has historically funded after school and holiday clubs in special schools in East Sussex.

Cuts in Government funding mean the council has had to make £110 million of savings since the start of the decade and a further £17 million this financial year. As a result we are having to review how all of our services are delivered, and focus our increasingly limited resources on providing statutory and critical services in the future.

“The proposals for after-school and holiday clubs in special schools were drawn up following discussions with special school head teachers and the East Sussex Parent and Carer Council, and include an offer of 18 months of funding to allow special schools to start and provide a service tailored to their school.

“A final decision will be made by the lead member for education and ISEND on Monday, taking into account all the feedback received from the consultation. Staff employed by the county council have been given notice of redundancy, with the caveat that this will be rescinded should lead member decide not to agree the proposals. This was to ensure staff had as much notice as possible.

“These proposals relate to after-school clubs and not respite care, which the council continues to provide to those children who’ve been assessed as requiring it following social care assessments, through residential provision and family-based services. Respite care provision will be unaffected by the proposals we have consulted on.

“Like many other councils, we operate a system where the majority of decisions are made either by cabinet or lead members. Lead members are appointed by the leader and tasked with making certain decisions within their area of responsibility. The after school and holiday club service falls within the remit of the lead member for education and ISEND.”