Short Breaks Legal Context

The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as a “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day to day activities”.

This may include a physical or learning disability, a hearing or visual impairment.

The Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children Regulations 2011 require local authorities to:

  • ensure that, when making Short Break provision, they have regard to the needs of all carers, not just those who would be unable to provide care without a break
  • provide Short Breaks that enable carers to provide care for their disabled child more effectively, and allow them opportunities to undertake education or training, meet the needs of other family members, or participate in regular leisure activities
  • Provide a range of breaks: during the day, overnight, at weekends and during school holidays
  • produce a Short Breaks Statement that sets out the eligibility criteria and explains how parents and carers can access Short Breaks for their child or young person

The Children Act 1989 Section 17(1) places a duty on local authorities to safeguard the welfare of children who are considered to be ‘in need’. Section 17(10) of the act defines under what circumstances a child shall be considered ‘in need’. A child is considered to be in need if:

  • they are unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for them of services by a local authority
  • their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for them of such services; or
  • they are disabled

Section 17(11) of the act also provides a definition of disability as it relates to the provision within the act which covers a range of impairments. The Equality Act 2010 has an updated definition of disability which is: “A person has a disability if the person has a physical or mental impairment and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities”. This is also the definition used in the Children and Families Act 2014.

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