Funding needed to tackle ‘national SEN emergency’

The Local Government Association has claimed that more than 130 extra children and young people with special needs are being supported by councils every day.

The new figures have prompted councils leaders to urge the government to provide extra funding to  tackle a growing ‘national special needs emergency’.

In total, 48,900 children and young people in England received new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans in 2018, which detail the support a person with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is entitled to. This amounts to 134 children and young people with SEND starting support plans each day.

The LGA, which estimates that councils in England are facing a SEND funding gap of up to £1.6 billion by 2021, stresses that this underlines the unprecedented level of demand for support and the need for the government to properly fund this in the upcoming Spending Review.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We face a national emergency providing the vital care and support children and young people with SEND so desperately rely on, and the government must address this in the Spending Review.

“The fact more than 130 children and young people are starting support plans with their council every day demonstrates the colossal demand pressures local authorities are under, and the need for this to be properly funded by government. Preparing Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans for children with SEND is a complex and lengthy process, and one that local authorities take extremely seriously and seek to get right.

“While councils endeavour to make sure the increasing numbers of EHC plans are completed on time, this cannot be at the expense of working alongside families and teachers to make sure all children who need support have the most appropriate plans in place. Parents rightly expect and aspire to see that their child has the best possible education and support, and councils have done all they can to achieve this. However funding has not kept up with demand, pushing support for children with SEND to a tipping point.”