Following the news that Croydon Council will be cutting funding to vital autism services in Croydon, Cllr Yvette Hopley (Shadow Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health) wrote to Cllr Andrew Rendle (Autism Champion for Croydon Council) to ask him to investigate and intervene:
20th January 2017
Dear Cllr Rendle,
I am writing to you in your capacity as the Labour Administration’s Autism Champion.
In March 2017 the contracts with PRISM and National Autistic Society that support children and families with autism are due to be cut by your party.
We believe it is imperative that Labour-controlled Croydon Council continues to invest in and prioritise community services for adults and children with autism and other special educational needs.
I have raised my concerns at Full Council and at the Autism Board in relation to the way services may change in terms of the diagnostic pathways and support for people with autism and yet there is still a lack of clarity and services are being cut – why?
It is not clear what the new commissioning intentions will provide in support of this very important group when these services are disbanded. I would appreciate swift clarification.
As a member of the Council’s Autism Board I will be asking at the next meeting on 24th January 2017 that this matter is discussed as an urgent item. I will also ask that you as the Autism Champion publicly hold to account the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member responsible for the utter failure in the delivery of this service.
These services make a huge difference to residents, families and carers in our borough. It should be a priority that these services continue, and whilst I understand that every service has financial implications this must be a priority.
Cllr Yvette Hopley
Shadow Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health
UPDATE: 24th January 2017
Following Cllr Hopley's calls for the Labour Council to change their decision to withdraw vital autism funding, Cllr Hopley raised her concerns at the Autism Board chaired by Cllr Andrew Rendle.
Cllr Hopley comments: "I am pleased to say that there has been a u-turn by the Labour administration and the contracts with PRISM and the National Autistic Society are going to be reinstated for another year. I know that this has been extremely worrying for families and carers in the borough and this will at least give some comfort to those residents who use these extremely important services."
Agnieszka Gebka from Parents in Partnership said: "On behalf of the PRISM consortium, Parents in Partnership team, Croydon PIP Parent Forum and most importantly the incredible community of Croydon SEND families I want to thank Cllr Hopley for all her support in ensuring that funding for our services is extended until an alternative/new commissioning plan is formulated.
"We are hoping that the feedback collected via the parental petition as well as our ongoing readiness to co-design local services will lead to an offer that strengthens resilience and empowers local parents, young people and children with additional needs and disabilities."