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Families of West Berkshire children with autism win court fight against short break cuts

A High Court judge has ruled that West Berkshire Council broke the law when it cut funding for short breaks for families of disabled children by 40 per cent.

The council was taken to court by two families from Newbury, one with an eight-year-old daughter with autism, epilepsy and a brain malformation, the other with a 14-year-old son with autism and a development disorder. Both children need constant care.

Mrs Justice Lang said in her ruling that the council’s decision to cut £215,600 from its short breaks budget for 2016-17 was unlawful, because it breached a number of duties placed upon the council by the 2010 Equality Act.

The money was used by voluntary sector organisations to provide a range of short break support to families living in the district.

The judge said she could find no evidence that councillors taking the decision had been told they had to consider the needs of carers looking after disabled children.

She said the council should reconsider the situation and ensure that it met its legal obligations.

Click here for more details of the case.