£1.6 billion funding gap for SEND by 2020

New analysis forecasts that the current SEND funding deficit could double to an estimated £806 million next year based on historical trends, possibly rising to £1.6 billion in 2020/21.

Councils have previously been drawing on reserves and other pots of funding to make up the shortfall, which this year could reach a projected £472 million, but are now reaching the point where money to provide these vital services is running out.

Therefore, as part of a new report, the Local Government Association is urgng for an ‘emergency injection’ of government funding when it announces the forthcoming Dedicated Schools Grant, which includes High Needs Funding allocations for councils to support children with SEND to provide a temporary solution to the crisis facing this support.

Additionally, the LGA says the government should launch a national review of SEND provision to overhaul of the support provided for children with special needs, including a fundamental reboot of the powers councils need to commission support for children with special needs and a rethink of what is needed to address the pressures that are driving ever-greater demand. This would provide councils with the powers to ensure schools, health and social care all share costs associated with SEND, rather than it just being a local government responsibility.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Parents rightly expect and aspire to see that their child has the best possible education and receives the best possible support. But the current system that supports children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is at a tipping point, and in need of an emergency injection of funding just to keep services afloat.

“Councils have done all they can but the reality is the money is not there to keep up with the unprecedented demand they are experiencing, which is why we are urging the government to address this in the upcoming Dedicated Schools Grant. It is clear the existing system is not working. The government should initiate a national review of how we can collectively provide the support children and their families desperately need.”

The number of children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) or statements, which detail the support a child with SEND receives, has increased by 35 per cent in five years. The number of children and young people educated in special schools and specialist colleges has risen by 24 per cent during the same period.