Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in England are missing out on £1.2 BILLION in crucial funding because of shortfalls in funding increases from central government, a union has warned today (Monday).
The National Education Union (NEU) says the number of children and young people in need of an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) has increased by 33% since 2015, from 240,000 to 320,000.
However, funding from central government has only increased by 6% over the same period, from £5.6bn to £6bn.
The NEU says one of the reasons behind the increase in demand is the Government’s decision to extend EHCP provision to young people with additional needs aged 19-25, which they say was poorly planned and insufficiently funded.
Local authorities across England are now facing SEND funding shortfalls of a staggering 93%, which has resulted in staff loses, increased waiting times for SEN assessments and cuts to specialist provision.
According to the NEU, nine out of ten councils are facing funding shortfalls amounting to thousands or even millions of pounds.
While the government has admitted “more needs to be done” to help children and young people with special educational needs, the shortfall means that some schools are simply unable to provide sufficient support and resources.
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said: “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 9 years which have left many councils on the brink.
“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.”
Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “Austerity is a political choice and it is disgraceful that the most vulnerable children are paying the price for Tory cuts.
“Education is a right, not a privilege, and these cuts mean that in one of the richest countries in the world children with special educational needs are not receiving the support they need.
“Ministers should be utterly ashamed that as a result of these cuts parents have been forced to take their own government to the High Court to demand their children receive the education that is theirs by right.”
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