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Disabled to choose carers

DISABLED teenagers will soon be able to choose their own care services, rather than having to accept those offered by councils.

A new Private Member's Bill, which looks set to become law, will mean 16- and 17-year-olds who receive care services from their local authority could instead be given money to buy those services for themselves.

A major aim of the Bill is to make life easier for those who want to leave home to go into further and higher education.

The Carers and Disabled Children Bill has Government backing and is before Parliament. It would also give the right to choose services to 16- and 17-year-olds who care for relatives, and to parents of disabled children. If any of these groups are unhappy with their authority's services, they will be able to buy them elsewhere.

There are 5.7 million carers in Britain - one household in six - and 1.7 million of them devote more than 20 hours to caring.

Under the Bill, councils will also be able to offer services directly to carers, instead of to the person in their care. That, for example, would allow a carer to be given proper training in how to lift a disabled person.

Local authorities would also be allowed to give vouchers to parents of disabled children to enable them to take a break from caring.

The Bill is second on the list of Private Members' Bills. This, and the lack of opposition, makes it almost certain to reach the statute book. It is expected to go before a Commons committee in March.

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