Short Breaks Cash Alternative

The Cash Alternative is a payment made directly to a family so that they can organise short breaks themselves. It is an alternative to the activities and 1:1 Outreach services. 

It may be possible to have a mixture of Short Break activities organised directly by the Council and the Short Break Cash Alternative for the remaining hours you have. 


How much money will I get? 

The exact amount of money you are entitled to will be calculated when you apply. See Calculating Hours.

The amount is based on the number of Short Break hours x £14.40 per hour.  

  • 2-5 year olds: 78 hours for 1 year or £1123.20 (78 hours x £14.40)  
  • 5-18 year olds: 156 hours for 1 year or £2,246.40 (156 hours x £14.40)


What can I use the money for? 

Most people pay for a play scheme or an activity or that their child will enjoy. 

  1. The use of the money is flexible but it must achieve the following 2 goals: To provide the parents/ carers a break from looking after the disabled child so they can do other things 
  2. Provide the disabled child with an activity the child will enjoy and will be a positive experience for them. 

Islington Council does not currently allow the use of the Short Breaks Cash Alternative to: 

  • Pay for activities where the parent/ carer has to remain with their child or where the parent/ carer does not get a break 
  • Pay the full cost of expensive activities where the total amount of breaks will be less than 78 hours for 1 year (2-5 year olds) or 156 hours for 1 year (5-18 year olds) 
  • Pay for education (e.g. maths tuition, ABA) 
  • Pay for therapy (e.g. OT, SALT) 
  • Pay for an activity that the disabled child will not enjoy or that puts them at high risk 
  • Buy food, meals, drinks 
  • Pay for anything where children miss school or important appointments 
  • Pay off debts or for something that has already happened 
  • Transport costs. 


Employing workers 

Families may be able to employ workers using the cash alternative as long as they are capable of managing the worker and dealing with payroll, tax and National Insurance, DBS checks, holiday pay and training. 

Families that are eligible and are already employing workers using the cash alternative can continue for 2023/24 if:  

  • all the arrangements for employing workers are complete  
  • workers are being well managed 
  • the money is being used as agreed  


How can I find information on alternative activities? 

Islington’s Local Offer contains information about childcare, adventure playgrounds, after school activities, drama groups, swimming and other activities in the local area. 

The SEND Community Support Service can also provide independent information, advice and support to access Short Breaks.  


How do I apply? 

Any family assessed as being eligible for targeted short breaks in Islington can request to take their Short Breaks as a cash alternative.  


How much time will it take to set up the payments? 

You will need to allow at least 4- 8 weeks for the payments to be set up. The amount of time may be longer if: 

  • You need to research the activities you want your child to attend 
  • You need to recruit a worker 
  • You do not return relevant signed paperwork promptly  


How long will the money last for? 

The Short Breaks Cash Alternative will usually run from the date agreed until 31 March. Plans agreed in January to March will normally run for the remainder of the financial year plus 12 months. 

After this time the support plan is reviewed and you can reapply for the payments to continue. Any unspent money will need to be returned to the Council. 


Who can support me to use the Short Breaks Cash Alternative? 

If you require more support than the Short Breaks service can provide you, we suggest you ask a family member or someone else you trust to help you. Alternatively contact the Islington SEND Community Support Service


Who can I contact if the payments stop or are not made on time? 

Payments are usually made every 4 weeks. 

Contact the Short Breaks Service by email.


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