Disabled charity that helped Cameron's son loses out in cuts

Joe Dyke
Tuesday 19 April 2011 00:00 BST
David and Samantha Cameron with their son Ivan in 2009
David and Samantha Cameron with their son Ivan in 2009 (PA)

David Cameron's commitment to protecting disabled services in the UK has been criticised after a charity of which he is a patron had its funding cut by £250,000. The Kids charity helped the Prime Minister look after his son but has had its support reduced as a result of local government funding cuts.

Last night, Mr Cameron faced further criticism after it emerged that an £800m grant for disabled services announced in December could be spent on other projects.

Kids offers one-to-one care facilities to about 7,000 disabled children across the UK and helped care for David Cameron's son, Ivan, who was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, until he died in 2009.

Parents reliant on the charity criticised the Prime Minister for not doing more to protect its funding – although colleagues point out that could have been seen as an abuse of position.

Heather Gordon, from Blackburn, whose 11-year-old son Callum has learning difficulties and had been attending sport classes run by Kids which are being cut, said: "He must know how hard it is for other people with disabilities. I thought he would have been more in favour of the kids and other people with disabilities after having a disabled son."

Sally Ralph, who receives advice from the charity after her two-year-old daughter Lily developed a haemorrhage on her brain, believes the Prime Minister could have done more. "It is so unfair," she said. "He should have spoken up and said 'This is a worthy charity'. He knows a lot about it and he should have done more to protect it."

Kath Kadri, whose son Hadi has Down's syndrome and attends a playground in Camden threatened with closure, said: "It is the only outdoor centre within Camden for children with special needs. It is unique."

The charity, which also boasts Sir Elton John and Cherie Booth as patrons, has had its funding cut by four local councils after their budgets from central government were slashed. An £80,000 project to help 28 children enjoy leisure activities in Blackburn and Darwen has been scrapped, as has a £78,000 project in Wigan.

A £72,000 scheme for more than 100 under-fives in East Yorkshire also faces the axe. All the councils blamed the scrapping of the schemes on funding cuts from central government.

A spokesman for No 10 said Mr Cameron was still committed to top quality disability care and blamed the decisions on individual councils. "This is something that the Prime Minister talked about a lot before the election and is a very personal issue to him. These are local authority cuts; it is not his decision," the spokesman said.

Last night, it emerged that £800m pledged for short breaks for families was not ring-fenced.

The Kids chief executive, Kevin Williams, said he was confident that the Prime Minister was committed to helping disabled families, but he was concerned about the decision not to safeguard the money.

Marc Bush, head of policy at the disabilities charity Scope, said the Government's eagerness for reform was creating problems for disabled people. "David Cameron is aware of the issues and they have perhaps focused on the issue longer because of his personal interest," Mr Bush said. "But the pace of reform is so fast that there are unintended consequences that hit the vulnerable communities he wants to protect."

A spokesman for the Department of Education said that, while the funding was not technically ring-fenced, councils still had a responsibility to provide short breaks for disabled families and they would be working hard to ensure that they fulfilled these responsibilities.

Sir Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau, said: "We know that children and young people, one of the most vulnerable groups in our society, are not being protected and are actually being hit by the cuts several times over."

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