Campaign reacts to outcome of National Assembly debate on Family Fund

Carers Wales, Contact a Family Cymru and Learning Disability Wales would like to thank all the families who contacted their Assembly Members this month to back over 4000 low income families with disabled children during the debate on Wednesday 8th March.

At very short notice there was a great response from across Wales with over 460 people taking action and sending 1644 emails to their Assembly Members in just 4 days; many adding how the £5.5million cut to the Family Fund in Wales has affected them and their families personally.

Watch the debate at Senedd.TV

These individual stories were quoted throughout the debate, clearly demonstrating that this is not a general issue of project funding for voluntary organisations but one which has a direct negative impact on thousands of low income families with disabled children across Wales. The Assembly Member briefings provided by Carers Wales, Contact a Family Cymru and Learning Disability Wales were also referred to throughout.

We would also like to thank Rhun ap Iorwerth AM Plaid Cymru for tabling the debate and speaking so strongly in support of families with disabled children. Positive contributions were also made by:

  • Mark Isherwood (North Wales)(Con)
  • Dai Lloyd (South Wales West)(PC)
  • Caroline Jones (South Wales West)(UKIP)
  • Sian Gwenllian (Arfon)(PC)
  • Nathan Gill (North Wales)(Ind)
  • Bethan Jenkins (South Wales West)(PC)

All of the above Assembly Members highlighted the vital support Family Fund grants provide to low income families with disabled children; support which continues to be fully funded in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, but Welsh Government has chosen to severely restrict in Wales. A decision which has resulted in over 4000 families per year being unable to access grants of an average of £500.

Welsh Government responded to the debate, choosing to focus instead on Welsh Government's general project funding for the third sector and support for voluntary organisations working with disabled children and their families across Wales.

When it came to the vote, all opposition parties (27 AMs) voted in favour of the motion calling on Welsh Government to look again at their decision to cut funding to low income families with disabled children via individual grants from the Family Fund or another route, but the Labour group (28 AMs) voted against, so the motion was not agreed and there was no commitment in the chamber from Welsh Government to reconsider their decision.

However, Carers Wales, Contact a Family Cymru and Learning Disability Wales will continue to campaign on this important issue and discuss ways forward with Welsh Government.

Once opposition debates are put to the vote at the Assembly  it is to be expected that the Labour party, who currently have a majority, require their AMs to back the Government. However, the Assembly as a whole and Welsh Government has now heard directly from families - via their emails and during the debate - about the negative impact the £5.5million cut to Family Fund grants is having on low income families with disabled children across Wales.