Special needs education breaking our budgets, warn councils

County councils across England are warning that the cost of covering special needs education is breaking their budgets, with local authorities overspending by more than £100m last year to meet the sharp rise in demand. Research by the County Councils Network found that some councils had recorded a 90% increase in young people being given care plans requiring special support, with 27 county councils overspending by a total of £123m in 2018-19 at a time when local authority purses are under severe pressure. MPs on the education select committee have published a report on school funding in England that calls for £1.2bn to fill the deficit in provision for special educational needs and disabilities (Send). The county councils said the number of young people on education, health and care plans (EHCPs) requiring additional support in their areas had risen by 50,000 in five years following reforms introduced by the 2014 Children and Families Act. Carl Les, Conservative leader of North Yorkshire county council and the network’s spokesman on children’s services, said the 2014 reforms – which raised the age limit for statutory support to 25 – had been “well intentioned” but were causing severe difficulties.

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