Cuts and freezes in statutory funding for children’s hospices

Published: November 22, 2016

Report shows dramatic fall in funding for children’s hospices

Statutory funding for children’s hospices in England is falling, according to findings released today by national charities Together for Short Lives and Hospice UK.

The report, based on a survey of children’s hospice and palliative care charities, found that the number of children and young people with life-shortening conditions in England is growing, but government funding is failing to keep pace – in fact, it’s declining. Local authority funding has been cut dramatically, with an average reduction of 61% as reported by children’s palliative care charities.

These cuts mean that local authorities are now only contributing 1% of the money charities need to provide palliative care to seriously ill children. This is despite the duty that councils have to provide short breaks (respite) to all disabled children and young people.

On average, the overall amount of statutory funding for charities providing children’s palliative care continues on a downward trajectory, falling year on year (22% in 2015/16 compared to 23% in 2014/15 and 27% in 2013/14). The cost of caring for seriously ill children is also increasing, but this is not being matched by statutory funding.

Charities delivering palliative care are worried that unless funding arrangements change they will not be able to meet the needs of these children and may have to cut existing services.

Peter Ellis, Chief Executive of Richard House says: “This report highlights the struggle that small children’s hospices such as ours face. We have seen a 50 percent increase in demand for our services over the past ten years, along with an increase in the complexity of health conditions facing children and young adults. This surge in demand and growth in the specialist care required has led to an increase in our costs.

“Our fundraising climate is becoming more and more challenging and statutory funding is simply not keeping up with the rise in costs. We need all the support we can muster to ensure that we can continue to provide care and support, free of charge, for the children and families who desperately need our help,” he says.

This year alone Richard House needs to raise £2 million in voluntary donations.

In publishing this report, both Together for Short Lives and Hospice UK are urging the government and NHS England to:

  • Listen to children and their families and end this crisis in children’s palliative care funding
  • Follow the example of the Scottish Government, which has committed £30 million funding to Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) over the next five years
  • Re-examine funding arrangements as a matter of urgency; there needs to be more investment and fairer funding from the government for hospice care now – to supplement the vital support provided by local communities and prevent hospices reaching crisis point
  • Increase the value of the Children’s Hospice Grant
  • Carry out a national inquiry into the state of children’s palliative care funding in England.

Read the full report, On the brink: A crisis in children’s palliative care funding in England, at www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk

Find out more about Richard House and make a donation at www.richardhouse.org.uk

If you have any queries please contact Jane Easton.