• Special needs provision in England has lost out on £1.2bn because of shortfalls in funding increases from central government since 2015;
  • Special needs provision in Tower Hamlets has lost out on £7.7m since 2015;
  • Special needs funding is “in crisis across the UK”.

New analysis from the National Education Union has found that Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) funding granted to local authorities from central government since 2015 has failed to keep up with rapidly increasing demand.

Nationally, the number of children and young people granted an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP – a legal document stating a child’s legal entitlement to funding for further support for severe and complex educational needs), has risen from 240,000 to 320,000 since 2015 – an increase of 33%.

However, funding for the high needs block (the budget reserved to fund such additional provision) has only increased by 6% over the same period, from £5.6bn to £6bn in today’s prices. This means that special needs provision in England has lost out on £1.2bn because of shortfalls in funding increases from central government since 2015.

In Tower Hamlets, there has been a 25% increase in the number of children with EHCPs since 2015, but because the Government has failed to keep funding in pace with demand, the borough faces a shortfall of £7.7m since 2015.

One reason for the rapid increase in demand lies in the extension of EHCP provision to young people with additional needs aged 19-25 – a policy which was unplanned and insufficiently funded.

This translates into massive funding shortfalls for 93% of local authorities across England, resulting in losses of invaluable support staff, increased waiting times for SEN assessment and cuts to specialist provision.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “Special needs funding is in crisis across the UK, with the Government failing to match the ever-growing demand for SEND services. In a double blow, councils have also seen their own budgets slashed, hampering their ability to step in to fill the gap.

“Funding for SEND provides crucial services and supports some of the most vulnerable in our society. We urgently need the Government to step up and put extra money in so that funding matches demand.”

Councillor Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People, said: “It is a national disgrace that this Tory government has failed to provide adequate resources for local councils and schools to provide support to children with special need and disabilities.  We’re looking closely at the changes to SEND funding locally and we will continue to engage parents and schools in how we can ensure we get the best value for our investment and that we continue to provide a high quality offer across different types and levels of need.”

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