The number of disabled children in need of essential care and equipment has been vastly underestimated by councils across Yorkshire, a national charity’s data analysis suggests.
All local authorities are required to hold a register of disabled children and young people.
Staffordshire-based charity Newlife said that there are more than 92,000 disabled children in Yorkshire, based on figures from the government’s latest Family Resources Survey (FRS). However, according to Freedom of Information (FoI) responses received by the charity showing figures released by the YEP for the first time today, only nine per cent of those children are visible to decision-makers on disability registers managed by Yorkshire councils.
Leeds City Council was highlighted by the charity because the authority only had seven children listed on its register – less than 0.5 per cent of the roughly 13,184 children that Newlife thinks actually are disabled in the city - according to an FoI response from early last year which related to 2016/17 data.
It told Newlife, which funds essential equipment for disabled and terminally ill children, that the authority was exploring IT options to improve access to the register.
Stephen Morgan, head of charity operations at Newlife, believes results mean that responsible authorities cannot fully assess the needs of disabled children living in their areas.
He said: “There is more disabled children than ever before,” adding: “It’s truly awful because we’ve children who are very seriously ill, that have a lot of complex needs.
“Never mind day-to-day care, it’s hour-to-hour care for some of those children and...they are not getting some of the specialist support.”
A Leeds City Council spokesman yesterday said: “We are extremely committed to providing a range of meaningful and practical support to disabled children in Leeds.
“Over the past financial year, Leeds City Council has spent over £449,000 on the purchase of 385 pieces of specialist equipment for 238 individual children with a disability for use in their own home. We would ask any parent or carer seeking advice or support in relation to additional needs, equipment provision and/or home adaptations, to please contact us as soon as possible.”
Newlife’s percentages have been calculated using the FRS figure from 2016/17 that eight per cent of the national disabled population are children, which has then been used to estimate the number locally.