"We could kid on this is going to benefit the kids but no, this is about funding": cutbacks in services to disabled children and young people in Scotland

Kirsten Stalker, Charlotte MacDonald, Caroline King, Francis McFaul, Colin Young, Moyra Hawthorn

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This paper presents research, commissioned by Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, examining changes in the availability and accessibility of publicly funded services to disabled children, young people and their families between 2011- 2013. Methods included a survey of voluntary sector providers and focus groups with family carers and (separately) young disabled people. After outlining the wider context of the economic recession, subsequent reductions in public expenditure in the UK and the move towards neo-liberalism in social work, the paper focuses mainly on family carers’ views, with some reference also made to the views of voluntary providers. Carers reported widespread reductions in both the level and quality of services they received from social work, education, the voluntary sector, health and professions allied to medicine, with some children not getting support they had been assessed as needing. There was a move from preventative to crisis work, although some families who appeared to be at ‘tipping point’ were not receiving the help they needed. Tightened eligibility criteria, a rise in unmet need and long waiting lists were also evident. The impact of the cutbacks on families is discussed. It is argued that disabled children's rights under international conventions, UK and Scots law are at risk of being undermined. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of the findings for policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-21
Number of pages15
JournalChild Care in Practice
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


  • disabled children
  • cutbacks
  • funding
  • young people
  • voluntary sector

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