William Eichler 19 July 2019

Council chiefs warn SEN reforms will ‘break’ their budgets

Council chiefs warn SEN reforms will ‘break’ their budgets image

County council leaders have warned that reforms to expand special educational needs (SEN) services will ‘break’ their budgets.

Research by the County Councils Network (CCN) has revealed that the number of pupils on Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs) has risen by almost 50,000 in just five years – an increase that has added more pressure on council budgets.

The Children and Families Act, introduced in 2014, made it compulsory for councils to provide EHCPs for young people with special educational needs up to the age of 25. This was up from 19.

CCN described these reforms as ‘well-intentioned’ but said their research had found that the 36 councils it represents have seen a 46% rise in the number of plans they are required to issue.

They also said that 27 county councils recorded a combined overspend of £123m in just one year in 2018-19 on their high needs block, which is a specific grant for children with special educational needs.

CCN argues that the rise in young people receiving EHCPs is impacting on the quality of services, with local authorities’ budgets being ‘stretched due to the extra burden’.

‘The Government’s reforms in the Children and Families Act five years ago were well intentioned and we support increasing the age range and the extra parental choice,’ said Cllr Carl Les, CCN children’s services and education spokesman.

‘However, these reforms have led to additional demand which has created a financial crisis for some local authorities, with huge rises seeing costs spiral out of control.

‘Counties already face funding gap of £21.5bn over the next five years and if we continue to overspend at the level we have done on will break many of our budgets.’

Cllr Les called on the Government to ‘urgently inject funding’ into SEN to help ease the financial pressures.

Highways jobs

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

City of Bradford MDC
£102K
Big and diverse, Bradford is the UK’s youngest city Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Senior Financial Accountant

Essex County Council
£50001.0 - £59590 per annum
Essex County Council is one the largest and most complex local authorities in the UK, with a turnover of £2bn. We are a Council with high ambitions, a England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Financial Accountant

Essex County Council
£38001.0 - £44440 per annum
Essex County Council is one the largest and most complex local authorities in the UK, with a turnover of £2bn. We are a Council with high ambitions, a England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Practitioner - Children in Care

Essex County Council
£38000.0 - £46000.0 per annum
Senior Practitioner - Children in Care - BasildonIn ECC we are "Serious about Social Work". Having recently won the Best Social Work Employer of the Y England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Casual Lifeguard

Chelmsford City Council
Grade 3 - £9.29 per hour
South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre is a large, multi-purpose complex accommodating a swimming pool, a sports hall, two further halls, Fitness Roo... Chelmsford, Essex
Recuriter: Chelmsford City Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

The June issue of Local Government News contains the full details of all the winning schemes in the 2019 Street Design Awards. From Children's Play to Pedestrian Environment, find out who has been recognised for their innovation and use of best practice.

This issue also explores how local government pension funds can hedge currency risk, how councils can best address the shortfall in school places, and an update on the number of authorities banning the use of Roundup over safety fears.

Register for your free magazine