Today the National Audit Office has released a new report, ‘Support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in England.’
This comes in the wake of County Councils Network research this summer which showed that ‘well-intentioned’ legislative changes in the Children and Families Act 2014 have led to huge increases in demand because the eligibility for support was widened – leading to increased pressure on council budgets as a consequence.
In the past few weeks, the government has announced £700m in new funding for special educational needs services in the Spending Round, and then a review of special educational needs serivces.
Below, the County Councils Network responds to the new report:
Cllr Carl Les, County Councils Network spokesman for children’s services and education, and leader of North Yorkshire County Council said:
“Today’s report from the National Audit Office echoes what county authorities have been arguing for a long time – that funding has not kept pace with well-intentioned reforms which expanded the eligibility criteria of Education, Health, and Care Plans and as a result many of us have been forced to overspend in order to provide these vital services with a 46% rise in the number of pupils receiving these plans since 2014 in county areas.
“As the report argues, this is unsustainable going forward. In total, 27 county authorities overspent by £123m on special educational needs (SEN) services last year alone, County Councils Network (CCN) research showed.
“However, we are encouraged by the government’s recent action. The extra £700m announced by the Chancellor for SEN services was extremely welcome and we are pleased that the government has acted on CCN calls for a substantial injection of funding. Looking longer term, the Department for Education’s recently-announced review of SEN shows that the funding challenges we are facing are clearly on the government’s radar. We look forward to engaging with the review and advocating for sustainable long-term funding for SEN.”