It’s been two days since the Government announced it’s future spending plans and how it was going to slash the deficit, and I’m still not sure what I think. I suppose if you’ve been told that it’s going to be Armageddon and the end of the world, you’re just kind of dazed and relieved that you’re still standing and that the kettle is still working. In short, the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) was bad. Very bad. But not as bad as we thought it might be. At least we don’t think so. And not just yet. But definitely still bad.
For example, on education, we were told to expect budget cuts of 10 to 20%. Instead, it seems to be around 5% and the part of the budget spent on schools is effectively being frozen, rather than cut (though this means less money for things like social care and youth services). This means that the overall funding for things like specialist support services for deaf children should remain static. Putting to one side the fact that deaf children in England are already 42% less likely to do as well in their GCSEs as other children and the huge variations in the help deaf children receive, this is quite a relief.
But it’s still bad. And the reason for that is because it will be local authorities who decide what to do with the pot of money for schools. And there are no guarantees they will protect funding for deaf children. Some local authorities have already started to cut services for deaf children, and all will be under pressure to move the money around. And even if the pot of money is static, there are figures suggesting that the number of deaf children are rising. In a system which is already unfair, this can only lead to more variations in the help that deaf children get.
The National Deaf Children’s Society has launched an urgent new campaign action for supporters to email their councillors and ask them to protect funding for services for deaf children. Within 24 hours, it’s already had a massive response from people concerned about this. Please do support the action and spread the word if you can.
I’m still digesting other parts of the CSR, but one thing to watch out for is Disability Living Allowance for children. The benefit hasn’t been cut. But there are signals the Government wants to tighten up the assessment process. And there is also a proposal to cut the mobility component of the benefit for those who are in residential placements (as if people in residential placements are vegetables who never go out). This could have damaging implications for parents of deaf children who attend residential special schools. NDCS is seeking urgent clarification on that one.
What were your thoughts on the CSR? Leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
PS NDCS’s full immediate response to the CSR can be found here.