HC Deb 10 November 2003 vol 413 cc131-2W
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much has been allocated to the Families Fund since 1997; what the average grant to a family with a disabled adult or child was in the last 12 months; and by how much this has risen since 1997; [136146]

(2) if he will make a statement on the Families Fund; how it has helped disabled people and their families; and what the grants are most commonly used for. [136147]

Margaret Hodge

I have been asked to reply.

The Family Fund was set up by the Government in 1973 to give practical help to families with severely disabled and seriously ill children under the age of 16. Since 1998 the charity has received separate funds from the Governments of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Taking these together, the following amounts have been allocated to the Family Fund:

1997 21.7
1998 22.0
1999 23.2
2000 24.2
2001 25.4
2002 26.5
2003 27.8

The FF uses these funds to provides grants direct to families for items which the statutory sector does not provide. The most popular types of grants are for: holidays or leisure facilities so everyone in the family can have a break; bedding and clothing to cover the expense of wear and tear because of the child's disability; additional hospital visiting costs; play equipment if this is related to the child's special needs; washing machines and other 'white goods' that provide practical help to ease the physical burden of carers for disabled children. 90 per cent. of the funds go direct to families. All administrative and other costs are met from the remaining 10 per cent. The average grant made to a family in 1997 was £466.00. The average grant made to a family in 2003 was £560.00. This represents an average increase of 20.17 per cent. since 1997. The Family Fund has been evaluated as "providing a good level of value for money" (Secta report 1999). In 2002–03 The Family Fund supported 44,800 families. Through the use of a network of visiting advisers The Family Fund are able to respond flexibly and imaginatively to the different needs of each family. Over the last 30 years they have helped improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of severely disabled children and their families.

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