Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will be prioritised in the government 's forthcoming spending review, Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury has said.
Ms Truss, a former education minister, took part in a Local Government Association debate on the review last night.
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Her comments, as reported by the Local Government Chronicle, revealed that she is aware of the knock-on pressure on schools’ budgets from councils, which are struggling to meet the growing demand for high-needs SEND funding.
“We recognise that more funding is needed in special educational needs and children’s services, and I am looking at that in the spending review,” she said.
“Councils are spending more money on that, but I don’t want to see that squeezing the schools’ budget because we see that schools are under pressure.
“Those children with special educational needs are a real priority in the spending review.”
Her comments come after schools minister Nick Gibb told the Commons Education Select Committee last month that there were particular issues with high-needs funding.
And last week, education secretary Damian Hinds launched a call for evidence in a bid to find ways to improve the SEND funding system.
Local authorities may move up to 0.5 per cent of their schools’ budget to fund high needs spending if they have consent from their schools forum.
Local authorities that do not have schools forum consent or that want to move more than 0.5 per cent must ask for permission from the education secretary – which a quarter of councils (38) did this year. Permission to move funds was given to 27 local authorities.
A survey from the NEU teaching union estimates that there has been a £1.2 billion shortfall in SEND funding since 2015, as numbers with children with education, health and care plans has increased by 33 per cent.