Council's Chief Finance Officer has expressed concerns over shortfalls in SEND funding

Trafford Council’s Chief Finance Officer has expressed concerns over shortfalls in funding for school pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Nikki Bishop, in her role as President of the Society of Municipal Treasurers, was one of three Local Authority Society Presidents to sign a letter to education secretary Damian Hinds over the issue – warning that it will get worse in years to come. The letter is also signed by Westminster City Council’s Gerald Almeroth, for the Society of London Treasurers, and North Yorkshire County Council’s Gary Fielding, for the Society of County Treasurers.

The letter says:

This is now one of the biggest financial pressures affecting the local government sector. Following a decade of funding reductions, in which core funding from central government has fallen by over 60 per cent, resources are almost a third lower than they were in 2010. This issue – which is largely outside the control of local authorities – could be the tipping point for some councils in the next couple of years.”

The estimated deficit in the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools grant for the 152 authorities in England is estimated to be more than £500m.

The letter, therefore, calls on the Government to inject more money into the system when it carries out a review of the outcomes of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Mrs Bishop said:

There has been a large increase in the number of pupils that require specialist help and the Special Educational Needs funding has not increased to match these demands.  We decided to send the letter to the Secretary of State because we have serious concerns about the funding and ability of schools to fund the requirements of pupils with special educational needs and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The letter points out that Councils have faced deficits in their Dedicated Schools Grant because of the rise in the numbers of children with an Education Health and Care Plans – a legal document outlining a child’s special educational needs and the support they need.

Trafford Council faces a funding gap of £2.7m over the next three years because of a 41 per cent increase in the number of Education Health and Care Plans in Trafford since the introduction of the Education Act 2014.

Posted on Friday 5th July 2019