Special Educational Needs and Disability Funding, House of Commons, 29 January 2020

Councils are continuing to tell us that pressures on the High Needs funding block is one of the most serious financial challenges that they are currently dealing with and we are calling on the Government to provide councils with long-term certainty on levels of high needs funding.


Key messages

  • The LGA welcomes the Government’s review into support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) announced in September 2019. We are keen to work with the Government and partners to identify how we can tackle the increasing demand and funding pressures that councils are facing in providing vital care and support for children and young people with SEND. 
  • We are pleased that the Government allocated councils an additional £780 million in high needs funding for 2020-21 in last year’s Spending Round. However, this will only go some way in meeting current demand. Research commissioned by the LGA has found that councils are facing a high needs shortfall of at least £889 million over the same period. 
  • Councils are continuing to tell us that pressures on the High Needs funding block is one of the most serious financial challenges that they are currently dealing with and we are calling on the Government to provide councils with long-term certainty on levels of high needs funding. We are concerned that unless additional funding is made available, councils will not be able to meet their statutory duties to support children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. 
  • More children with special needs are now being educated outside of mainstream schools. SEND statistics show that 52 per cent of the 271,165 children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were placed in state special schools, alternative provision, or independent and non-maintained special schools in 2019. This is impacting on council budgets due to the higher costs associated with placements in maintained special schools and independent or non-maintained special schools. 
  • To speed up the creation of additional new special school places, we are calling on the Department for Education (DfE) and Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to give councils the powers and funding to open new special schools where they are needed. 
  • Research commissioned by the LGA and County Councils Network found that increasing expenditure on home-to-school transport is being driven by the costs of providing transport for children with SEND. Expenditure on transport for children with SEND has increased by 13 per cent for pre-16 children and by 68 per cent for post-16. This is in comparison with a drop of 12 per cent in spend on pre-16 mainstream transport and a drop of 27 per cent in spend on post-16 mainstream transport. Transport for children and young people with SEND now accounts for 69 per cent of all home-to-school transport expenditure.

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Special Educational Needs and Disability Funding, House of Commons, 29 January 2020