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Bucks Activity Project

Changes to Buckinghamshire Disability Short Breaks 2019

Changes to Buckinghamshire Disability Short Breaks 2019

Short break services support disabled children, young people and their families. Action for Children currently provides short break services for Buckinghamshire County Council (Council) and the NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). This section explains the type of short break we offer to families and changes to the service.

What kinds of short breaks are available?

In Buckinghamshire we usually talk about three kinds of short break; universal, targeted and specialist.

  • Universal short breaks are services that can be used by everyone without an assessment. For example youth clubs, after school activities, leisure centres or childminders. They offer valuable experiences for children and young people as they grow up. Information about universal services can be found here


  • Targeted short breaks are activities specifically for disabled children. These may be provided in the evenings, weekends and school holidays. The targeted short breaks we currently provide are the SMILE (Early Years Short Breaks) service (for 0-6-year olds) and the Bucks Activity Project (for 5-18 year olds – until their 19th birthday).


  • Specialist short breaks these are daytime or overnight respite services, or services paid for by direct payment. They are designed to meet the needs of an individual child and their carers after a social care assessment. This assessment is called a Child and Families Assessment.

What is Action for Children’s short break offer?

Our current contract for targeted short break services, (SMILE) and Bucks Activity Project Short Breaks Services, ends on 30 September 2019. 

The Council and the CCG have awarded Action for Children the new contract to provide targeted short breaks. Although the new targeted short breaks service will not start until 1 October we wanted to tell you about some changes that are planned. You can find out more about how the contract was awarded and the changes that are planned all short breaks on the Council’s website.

Changes to the Targeted short breaks service

The plan is to target more fairly, those most in need. Rather than offering everyone the same number of hours this will mean introducing a two-tier Targeted Service:

  • Lower Targeted Offer
  • Higher Targeted Offer

At this stage we cannot say what the number of hours will be that are linked to the lower and higher targeted offer. A set of questions will be developed with the support of Fact Bucks to help decide this. However, these need to be tested first to make sure they are fair and fit for purpose.

Changes to activity fees

Activity fees to access the targeted short breaks service will increase from 1 January 2020. These will rise to £10 for a 3 hour targeted short break and £20 for a 6 hour targeted short break.

There will be a 50% discount for those on concessionary rates. Some high cost activities e.g. ‘Go Ape’ may attract a higher activity fee (£15 for 3 hour short break) with a discount to those on concessionary rates. Details of confirmed activity fees will be published before 1 January 2020.

Wider more flexible choice

Action for Children will be working with a number of smaller providers to ensure the targeted short break offer provides a greater choice of activities and times of delivery. Hours used in these services will be count as part of your targeted offer.

As yet we cannot confirm all organisations that we will be working with, but we will keep you fully informed as the activity programme develops.

Action for Children will manage all bookings for the targeted service and the allocation of the ‘Two Tier’ offer.


Working in partnership

Buckinghamshire County Council is working in partnership with Action for Children to commission and fund a range of short break services for disabled children and young people.

Find out more