The gap widens

A new piece of economic research by Scope and the Disabled Children’s Partnership exposes that the funding gap for disabled children’s health and social care has continued to increase to £2.1 billion – an increase of over £500 million since our last calculation in 2016/17. 

But the research also shows that it makes economic – as well as moral – sense to invest in support to children and families, as reduced longer costs and increased tax revenues would mean that over-time there would be net gains for public finances. 

The research represents a key addition to our #GiveItBack campaign, which calls for a fair funding settlement for disabled children’s health and social care. The gap widens is authored by Development Economics, commissioned by Scope with the DCP. 

The funding gap figures in the report expose that countless disabled young people are not getting the health appointments and therapies they need. It means countless parents are not getting respite care. It means that countless families up and down the country face huge amounts of unmet need. 


But we already knew this. Now, we just have the updated numbers to prove it. 

Download the report 

Download a summary briefing 


Key findings 

  • The report finds that the funding gap in disabled children’s health and social care has continued to grow reaching £2.1 billion from the latest data available in 2019/20 – an increase of over £500 million since 2016/17. 
    • This includes a £573 million funding gap in disabled children’s social care, and a £1.5 billion gap in disabled children’s NHS spending. 
  • Significant investment is needed by central government ahead of the spending review on 27 October 2021 to ensure that every family with a disabled child can get the services they need to live a healthy, happy life – such as respite care, therapies and the provision of medicines. 
  • The analysis within the report also shows that investing in disabled children’s health and social care will not only improve the lives of countless families, but would generate net positive gains for public finances. With sustained investment: 
    • Tax revenues would substantially increase as more disabled children, their siblings, and parent carers would be able to enter employment. 
    • Long-term health and social care costs would also reduce as early intervention improves, and health problems are identified earlier. 



  • HM Treasury should address historic underfunding, and ensure funding is sufficient to meet the current and future needs of disabled children and their families, in particular focusing on areas of highest unmet needs such as short breaks and respite care. 
  • The Department for Education should create a dedicated Disabled Children’s Innovation Fund, to support and develop best practice in cross service support to families and demonstrate the long-term cost effectiveness of providing the right support at the right time.
  • The Department for Education should prioritise disabled children and their families within Covid recovery programmes, in particular to address the impact of missed therapies and health support, and to overcome the emotional and mental health impacts of the pandemic on disabled children, their sibling and their parent carers. 


How can I help? 

On 27 October 2021, the government will decide how much funding disabled children’s health and social care will get at the Spending Review.  

Before the day, you can take our easy action and email Rishi Sunak, and other government ministers. 

It’s now or never. We have to up the pressure as much as possible for COVID recovery funds for children, and a better future for the entire family.  


If you have any questions about the report, or the #GiveItBack campaign, you can email the partnership at