Surrey Short Breaks statement 2021


About our Short Breaks Statement

Every local authority must provide a Short Breaks Statement and listen and respond to parents and carers' views. A Statement informs parents and carers of the variety of Short Breaks that are available to support their family and how to find suitable services.

We consulted with parents, carers and the young people using our Short Breaks services, and this informed the design of our current services. The range of services provided, both current and any future commissioned services, reflects the views of families that use these services.

This Statement will be reviewed regularly with families as we understand the demand for Short Breaks may change. This document has been designed to provide information about:

  • The range of Short Breaks currently available in Surrey
  • Who can access Short Breaks and how
  • How Short Breaks may meet, and continue to meet, the needs and aspirations of disabled children, young people and their families in Surrey

A Strategic Review of Short Breaks services in summer 2021 will inform the redesign and recommissioning of future Short Breaks services. We are consulting with and engaging with parents, carers and young people as part of this process.

What are Short Breaks?

Short Breaks are a variety of activities for children and young people with Special Educational Needs or a Disability (SEND) and their families in Surrey. The activities run throughout the year during daytimes, evenings, overnight, weekends and school holidays and may take place in the child's own home, or in facilities or residential settings provided by Surrey County Council or a commissioned short break provider.

Short breaks have two key aims:

  • to enable the child to participate in fun, interesting and safe activities
  • to provide a break from caring for parents/carers

How we decided what activities we fund

We know Short Breaks services are vital for many families in Surrey, so we tried to listen to them in making our decisions.
We sought feedback from children, young people and families through workshops, surveys and a public consultation. These services were commissioned through a formal tender process using a Short Breaks Outcome Framework.

The specifications used to develop these services were informed by the information gathered from nearly 600 surveys and questionnaires, over 200 attendees at drop-in sessions and design workshops in 2016/17. Current short breaks services were commissioned and let in December 2017 following these consultations and these contracts are running until March 2022. The consultations that took place in December 2020 and ongoing engagement with families and young people will be used to inform the design of services to be commissioned commencing April 2022.

About Short Breaks

Short Breaks are for children and young people who have special educational needs or a disability and their families and carers.
The Equality Act 2010 tells us a disability is 'a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term negative effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day to day activities'. We refer to 'additional needs' in this Statement as some parents and carers and young people prefer this term.

Short Breaks are for families with children between the age of 0 and 18 who are affected in their everyday living by one or more of the following:

  • A physical impairment
  • A sensory impairment
  • Chronic physical ill health
  • A communication or language disorder
  • An Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • A learning disability

There is other support available from Children's Services and other organisations to promote emotional wellbeing and mental health among children and young people, and to support those with additional needs resulting from abuse or trauma for example, but who do not have a disability, for example the Surrey Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health service.


An important outcome from the provision of Short Breaks is that we meet the needs of families through a choice of Short Breaks services that are responsive to the needs of service users.

  • Since the last update of the Short Breaks Statement, formal and informal feedback has been gathered from a range of sources. The themes that have emerged in relation to Short Breaks services include:
    Short Breaks need to be fun and have a strong social or educational purpose to them including learning through play
  • Disabled children and young people need a diversity of provision
  • Non-judgemental support should be provided to families through the provision of timely and ongoing support to meet individual family needs
  • Opportunities should exist for all the members of the household to take part in inclusive activities with siblings
  • Short Breaks should provide an opportunity for fun time as a family together or separately
  • Short Breaks should provide opportunities for disabled children and young people to develop friendships and reduce isolation
  • Short Breaks can develop skills and understanding to manage challenging behaviours
  • Short break services should support disabled children and young people with complex needs to have opportunities to mix with peers and access community opportunities

Short Breaks services need to be responsive and flexible to operate safe service provision in response to the pandemic. We will ensure that our Short Break services focus on improving life opportunities and outcomes by continuing to develop the ways for disabled children, young people, and their families to participate. We know that the views of families, disabled children and young people are essential to support positive outcomes.
Not all disabled children, young people and their families will need the same level of support. Some will need more than others because of the nature of their child's disability and their individual circumstances. We will continue to monitor and review the views of disabled children, young people, parents and providers so that everybody can contribute, and Short Break services continue to develop.

How can families access Short Breaks?

In Surrey we offer a graduated response to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND.

  • Universal Service: can be accessed by everyone, such as play and leisure facilities
  • Targeted Service: for children and young people with SEND that allow self-referral from families and often incurs a cost to the families
  • Specialist Service: for families who need extra help after a social care assessment

Targeted Services

Examples of Targeted Services include:

  • Play schemes and youth schemes (including clubs and holiday schemes)
  • Clubs and social activities
  • After-school clubs

Targeted services are aimed at disabled children and young people who require additional support or who may need groups or services that are specifically designed to meet their needs. An assessment is not required to access these services - so families can self-refer.

These services provide play and leisure activities and most are open to families where a child or young person has any disability. There are some services specifically to support children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and with Complex Health needs.

These Services may ask to see proof of the child or young person's disability (DLA letter, paediatricians report or similar) and may ask what other services are being accessed, to ensure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to access Short Breaks. These Services may be at Specialist Centres or in a mainstream provision.

Activities can be booked directly with the activity provider. Details of all Short Break activities, clubs and play schemes are in our Short Breaks Directory.

Parents and carers will still need to pay a financial contribution towards the standard subsidised cost of providing the activity.
Details of the activities available, how much they cost and activity providers are given in the Short Breaks Directory which is part of the Surrey Local Offer.

Surrey's Local Offer is detailed on the Local Offer website. This provides clear and searchable information about all of the services which families can access for disabled and/or special educational needs children and young people aged 0-25. For more information visit the Surrey Local Offer.

If you have any problems accessing any of the activities listed on the Local Offer website or in the publications, Surrey Family Information Service will be happy to help: call 0300 200 1004.

Specialist Services

Examples of Specialist Services include:

  • Respite (day care, overnights)
  • Personal Support

Specialist services are for families with a child or young person who requires more support than is offered through our targeted services because of their disability and additional needs. This may be because of changes in the family's capacity to support their child or young person, or because their needs are or have become greater.

Some families will have a wider network of support that includes friends, relatives and local support groups. However, if a family does not have this support or would benefit from extra support from Surrey County Council, parents and carers can request a social care needs assessment to determine eligibility for specialist services.

To see what help might be needed a social worker from either the Children's Services Team or Children with Disabilities Team will need to talk with the parent or carer to complete a needs assessment.

The needs assessment can be requested at any time, from a social worker or by contacting Children's Services. The assessment is how we gather and record information about the child or young person's needs by talking with parents, carers and other people involved with the family. The assessment will need to go to a panel to agree the plan and level of support required.

Some examples of when a family may be eligible are detailed below. For example, when:

  • a child requires specialist equipment for mobility
  • support is required to be able to undertake all basic self-care functions (that are age appropriate)
  • a child or young person requires constant supervision throughout the day and for prolonged periods at night (when no longer age appropriate)
  • they have a profound and multiple learning disability, severe learning disability, or autism with challenging behaviour, which results in a significant risk of self-harm or harm to others
  • members of the family have physical or mental conditions or needs that limit the support that parents and carers can provide.

Details of some of these services are available in the Short Breaks Directory which is part of the Surrey Local Offer, but these and other services will be identified through the needs assessment.

Examples of Short Break Services funded by Surrey County Council

Play schemes

Activities for children aged 5 to 11 – after school, at weekends and during the school holidays, including schemes specifically for children with ASD.
Located in Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Tandridge, Waverley, Woking.

Youth schemes

Activities for young people aged 12 to 18 – after school, at weekends and during the school holidays, including schemes specifically for young people with ASD.
Located in Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell, Guildford, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Waverley, Woking

Leisure activities

Clubs and groups with a focus on particular activities and interests, operating in school holidays, at weekends or after school
After school music clubs (various locations), Saturday orchestra (Guildford), cycling clubs (Epsom, Woking and Leatherhead), theatre group (Leatherhead), outings and camps (Surrey wide)

After school clubs

Clubs at special schools in Surrey, primarily open to children and young people who attend them. Epsom & Ewell, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Waverley

Overnight respite

Overnight breaks and day care, subject to an assessment of need Guildford and Runnymede (and other locations where required)

Specialist services

Play and Leisure services for children and young people from across Surrey with complex needs Tadworth and various locations

Play and residential activities for children and young people with visual impairments from across Surrey Various locations

How we can help you

Benefits of Short Breaks

Short Breaks allow parents and carers to spend time either with their other children or on their own, so they can recharge their batteries, catch up on sleep or do vital jobs.

We have worked with children, young people and families to create outcomes that they said they would like Short Breaks to help them to achieve.

For the child or young person, these include:

  • Learn new skills and take part in activities which interest them
  • Develop independence and gain confidence
  • Relax and have fun with friends
  • Develop supportive relationships and friendships
  • To give them space and time away from home

For parents, carers and the family, these include:

  • Receive regular, planned and reliable breaks from caring
  • Spend time with their other children or together as a family
  • Feel confident their child is having fun and their needs are being met in a safe environment
  • Have opportunities to spend quality time with their family, enjoying and accessing activities together
  • Have opportunity to go to work

Paying for a Short Break

Surrey County Council provides some Short Break services itself and commissions external organisations to provide others. However, this does not always cover the cost of activities and trips and in these circumstances, providers will ask parents/carers for a financial contribution.

Targeted Services

Families are expected to contribute to the costs of a child or young person doing a particular activity programme: but the costs are subsidised.

We are aware that financial difficulties can be an issue for many families, so we have asked all activity provides to consider this when applying to us to provide Short Breaks services or for Short Breaks grants. If cost is a barrier to you attending an activity please discuss directly with your activity provider about paying a reduced charge. If you receive a Parent Carer Break Grant you can also use this towards the cost of services and activities.

Specialist Services

These services are fully funded if they arise from a needs assessment.

Parent Carer Break Grant

Parent Carer Break Grants are payments given to support parents who have a disabled child under 18 living in Surrey. It is for families who are not currently receiving services from Surrey County Council children's services and don't have a social worker or family support worker working with them.

Parents cannot directly apply themselves. Anyone working with a family can apply on your behalf - such as Early Support Co-ordinators, Children's Centre Managers, Teachers and Home School Link Workers, Nurses and Health, Visitors or one of the Action for Carers Surrey Team. Part of the application process is that either an Early Help Assessment or a Carer's Support Assessment is required.

Parent Carer Break Grants can be used for a range of things that best support the parent in their caring role. Examples of previous grants include: a family break, a short activity break for parents, training courses for a parent, driving lessons, a contribution towards your child accessing play or activities, days out, or equipment to help you as a parent in supporting your child.


Unfortunately, we had to make the decision that generally we cannot fund transport for Short Breaks activities, as otherwise the funding for activities would be very quickly used up by a very small number of children and young people, and we would have far fewer activities available.

Parents and carers are encouraged and expected to transport their children to and from Short Breaks activities. We do understand, however, that transport can be a real difficulty in a large county like Surrey. To try to minimise transport issues, we have commissioned a range of provision across all districts and boroughs of the county. In a few cases, providers can also transport children and young people to and from the Short Break venues.

Details are available from providers (see Short Breaks Directory). Surrey County Council provide children and young people with disabilities aged 5 or over with a free disabled person's bus pass and a companion permit. For more information and how to apply please visit Surrey Disabled Person's Bus Pass.

Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

'A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the Local Authority to deliver all or some of the provision set out in an Education, Health and Care Plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision' (SEN Code of practice 9:92).

Following an assessment, a Personal Budget is an allocation of funding which should meet the total cost of provision listed in the assessment plan for your child or young person. Personal Budgets aim to give more flexibility, choice, and control over support, enabling children, young people and families to make decisions about the help they receive so that it best suits their circumstances.

The parent or carer or the young person (if over 16 years old) can either

  • receive their personal budget as a Direct Payment enabling them to commission the services they have been assessed as needing.
  • leave it to be managed by their local authority
  • or have a combination of direct payment/council controlled.

If a Direct Payment is chosen the family or young person usually receives the money on a pre-paid card, which they can use like a normal bank debit card to purchase the services identified in the assessment.

Preparing for Adulthood

Preparing for Adulthood are is the term used when young people are moving from childhood to adulthood, between the age of 14 and 25 years old. This is the time when young people are preparing to leave school and take the next steps in their adult life. For young people with disabilities and additional needs more support may be needed during this time to enable them to reach their full potential.

This transition from Children's Services to Adult Services should be a positive experience and a time of opportunity for young people, and we want to support them as they become young adults.

We aim to provide a range of appropriate Short Break activities for teenagers, and we are continually working with activity providers to develop new and exciting initiatives for this age group. There is a whole section on Preparing For Adulthood which includes transition from Children's Services to Adult Services on the Preparing for adulthood section of the Surrey Local Offer website.

To contact Adult Services, please call on 01276 800270 or email

Contact us

How Decisions About Short Breaks are Made

For more information about how decisions are made and the type of Short Breaks that may be available for you, please visit the Local Offer.

Get in Touch

At any time, you can tell us what you think. We would like to hear your views on the Short Break services in Surrey. If you have any questions or wish to discuss anything within this Statement, please contact the Short Breaks Commissioning Team at

Complaints and Compliments

We aim to provide high quality services, but occasionally things can go wrong. Please tell us if they have so that we can put things right. Complaints, comments and compliments.

The Local Offer

The Local Offer gives children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND), and their families, information about what support services the local authority think will be available in their local area. Every local authority is responsible for producing a Local Offer and making sure it is available for everyone to see. The Local Offer is a free resource for residents.

It gives children and young people with SEND, and their families, information on local support services. Some of the services listed come from Surrey County Council, or the NHS, but others come from external organisations. Being listed in the Local Offer does not necessarily mean the service is endorsed or recommended by the Council. Please check yourself to make sure it is suitable for your needs.

Surrey Local Offer website