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(UK) £6bn annually for SPED not enough parents claim; additional £700M promised

Oct 7, 2019, Yorkshire Post: Families - including North Yorkshire family - lose challenge over special-needs funding Three families have lost a High Court challenge against the Government over special educational needs funding. The families, including the family of Benedict McFinnigan, 14, from Scarborough, brought the legal action over the Government's approach to providing special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding, on behalf of all young people who rely on it. Their lawyers previously told the court there was a "genuine crisis" in Send funding for children and young people which could "blight their lives forever". But, in a ruling on Monday, Mr Justice Lewis said there was "no unlawful discrimination" in the way the Government made provision for SEND funding…. Jenni Richards QC, for the families, told the court at a hearing in June that there was "clear and incontrovertible evidence" of a "substantial national shortfall" in funding. Ms Richards argued that former chancellor Philip Hammond acted unlawfully in setting the national budget in October 2018, and former education secretary Damian Hinds did so when making available additional, but "manifestly insufficient", SEND funding in December…. She told Mr Justice Lewis they did not take enough account of the "nature and extent of the crisis" in SEND funding when making those decisions. Ms Richards said Department for Education statistics showed "rising demand" for SEND funding, which had "not been matched by anything like a commensurate increase in funding". She said the figures showed there were 25,540 young people aged 16-25 in January 2015 with a statement or education, health and care (EHC) plan, which had increased to 84,260 by January last year. The families sought a declaration that the Government's approach to SEND funding is unlawful, which they said would force ministers to consider increasing the amount available. Government lawyers, opposing the legal action, argued that the increase in demand was recognised by the ministers and Mr Hinds had "made it clear" that high needs would be one of his priorities ahead of the 2019 Spending Review. Mr Justice Lewis said there was "no reasonable basis" for concluding that the defendants were treating children and young people with special educational needs in a similar way to other children without such needs…. He added: "Factually, the funding system provides for additional funding through the high needs funding block. That is currently over £6bn a year. "In addition, if local authorities need more money to ensure that special educational provision is made, they will need to transfer money from other parts of their budget or from reserves. "Recognising the financial pressures on local authorities to meet their legal obligation to provide the specified special educational provision, the (Education Secretary) has, from time to time, made additional funds available specifically for special education needs - as he did with the allocation of an additional £350 million in December 2018."… In the September spending round, the Government said it would provide an additional £700 million over the next year for pupils "with the most complex needs" and also announced a review into special educational needs and disability and how the law is working in practice….


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