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SEND underfunded by £1.2bn, says union

NEU finds demand for SEND provision up by 33 per cent but funding only by 6 per cent

Lack of SEND support

Special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision in England has lost out on £1.2 billon because of shortfalls in funding increases from central government since 2015, a union is claiming.

The National Education Union (NEU) research on SEND spending in local authority areas said funding had failed to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for provision. The number of children and young people granted an education, health and care plan (EHCP) had increased from 240,000 in 2015 to 320,000 this year, a rise of 33 per cent.

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This was in part caused by the extension of EHCP provision to young people with additional needs aged 19-25, a move the NEU said was “unplanned and insufficiently funded”.

Funding had risen only by 6 per cent, from £5.6 billion to £6 billion in real terms, the analysis showed.

This left funding shortfalls for 93 per cent of English local authorities, resulting in losses of support staff, increased waiting times for assessments and cuts to specialist provision.

Many councils had, as a result, faced costly legal battles with aggrieved parents who have taken them to court for failing to provide the support their child has a statutory right to in their EHCP.

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The funding shortfall for SEND provision comes against the backdrop of the swinging cuts to local authority budgets imposed by the Westminster government over the last nine years which have left many councils on the brink.

“This is an appalling way to be addressing the education of some of our most vulnerable children and young people and is causing untold misery and worry for thousands of families.”

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