Special needs provision in schools cut by over £1bn

By William Eichler | 16 April 2019

Children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities have lost out on £1.2bn of Government funding over the last four years.

The number of children and young people granted an Education Health Care Plan has risen from 240,000 to 320,000 since 2015. These plans are a legal document stating a child’s entitlement to funding for support for complex needs.

Despite this 33% increase in demand, the National Education Union has calculated that funding for the high needs block has only increased by 6% over the same period, from £5.6bn to £6bn.

This translates into what the union describes as a ‘massive funding shortfall’ for 93% of councils across England, which has resulted in the loss of support staff, increased waiting times for SEN assessment and cuts to specialist provision.

‘The funding shortfall for SEND provision comes against the backdrop of the swingeing cuts to local authority budgets imposed by the Westminster Government over the last nine years which have left many councils on the brink,’ said Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU.

‘Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost almost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services.

‘This is an appalling way to be addressing the education of some of our most vulnerable children and young people and is causing untold misery and worry for thousands of families.’

A report by the think tank IPPR North found that cuts to local government and school budgets have resulted in funding for children with special educational needs dropping by 17% per pupil across England.

The report also found that the funding cuts had hit SEND education in the north of England the hardest, with cuts of 22% per pupil since 2015.

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