West Berkshire Council

Start date: 2015-11-03
End date: 2015-12-14
Results: 2016-03-03

[ARCHIVED] Budget Proposal 2016/17 - Phase One: Special Needs Advice and Counselling Service (SNACS)

Part of the range of West Berkshire Council's budget proposals for 2016/17, with supporting information and Equality Impact Assessments.

If you haven't already seen our video explaining why these changes are being proposed, please visit our Budget Proposals 2016/17 webpage.


The council funds a counselling service specifically for the parents of children with disabilities. Looking after a disabled child can be physically and emotionally demanding and in some cases the emotional health of parents can suffer.

The service was set up in response to evidence that the incidence of depressive illnesses is greater amongst parents of disabled children, than in the general population. If parents are suffering from low mood / depression and are not receiving any support, there can be a knock on effect on the child's welfare. The service is managed on behalf of the council by a care agency called Call Us. There are no permanent employees in the service.

The service has a pool of counsellors with suitable qualifications and registration who also have some experience and knowledge of special educational needs and disability. Counsellors from the pool are allocated cases by the Coordinator in Call Us and are paid an hourly rate. Counselling is usually offered to parents on a time limited basis, although in some cases it can be more open ended.


It is proposed to cease funding this service, saving £10,000.

What do we think the impact will be?

There will be no access for parents of disabled children to a counselling service which is specifically designed to meet their needs and whose counsellors have knowledge of the particular issues facing families with a disabled child. However, parents who require counselling should still be able to access it either through their GP or other voluntary agencies.  We will speak to our NHS colleagues to see how they might be able to help.

What else have we considered in arriving at our proposal?

There is no other option for reducing this expenditure.

This consultation is now closed.

What you told us

We received 18 responses to this consultation.

We have condensed all your comments into the 'Summary of Responses' and everything you said, word for word, is contained in 'Verbatim Responses'.

These can be found in 'Documents' below.

What we did

A recommendation on how to proceed with this proposal was made to the Executive Members on 11 February 2016.

This can also be found below in 'Overview and Recommendation'.

Following this, at the Full Council Meeting on 1 March 2016, all Members discussed this proposal as part of setting the Revenue Budget for 2016/17.

At the vote, the budget was agreed with the suggested amendments.

It was agreed to continue to fund this service at the current level.

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