Children with special education needs are at the centre of a funding crisis which is affecting councils across the country. Councils spending on children with SEND has trebled in just three years. Councils have already had to use hundreds of millions from their overall school budget to support children with SEND. The Observer has identified 40 councils that have either cut special needs funding this year or are considering on making cuts in the following year.
Data from the freedom of information requests and council reports show that the combined overspend on “high needs” education budgets among councils in England soared from £61m in 2015-16 to £195m in 2017-18. It is already expected to hit £200m this year. The figures cover 117 of England’s 152 councils, meaning the true figures will be higher. Cases have already been launched in London and Surrey after a successful challenge to proposed cuts in Bristol. Campaigns are also being planned in Portsmouth and Yorkshire, while a case is being drawn up against central government for failing to properly fund the system.
Nadhim Zahawi, the children’s minister, said today that the government recognised “local authorities are facing cost pressures on high needs” and that overall funding was being kept under review. He added: “In 2018-19 councils will receive £6 billion of funding specifically for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities, up from £5 billion in 2013.”
Let us know your opinion SEND cuts. Where should the funding come from? Are mainstream schools at risk? How would you tackle the current cuts crisis?