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(UK) Bromley: Deficit over cost of special ed; millions over budget

Sept 15, 2022, London News: Bromley projected to go £4.2m over schools budget https://londonnewsonline.co.uk/bromley-projected-to-go-4-2m-over-schools-budget/

Bromley council has projected its schools fund will go £4.2m over budget by the end of the school year.

The council released details of the overspend in a document that also reported the increased cost of school placements were partly to blame. The council said the higher cost of transporting kids with special needs to school, as well as Covid pandemic pressures, were to blame for the schools fund going over budget. It said it was working on a “recovery plan” with the Department for Education (DfE). Placements for kids with special needs are projected to go £5.7million [$6.5M] over budget in the borough by the end of 2022/23. Transport costs for young people with special needs were also estimated to go £121,000 [$138K] over budget.

The council said the number of kids who needed transport to school had also risen by 17 per cent since the Covid pandemic, adding to costs.

The forecast £4.2m [$4.8M] overspend brings the total schools’ budget deficit to £11.5m [$13M] going into the new financial year, as a further £7.1m [$8.1M] deficit is being carried over from the previous year.

The council document reads: “We have recently met with representatives from the DfE to set out our deficit recovery plan which they have approved.”

A Bromley Council spokesman said: “There are currently broad pressures being seen across the vast majority of Local Authority Children’s Services and across social care in general.

“These pressures are around increased demand in and following the Covid pandemic, higher costs of placements and transportation for children with Special Education needs.

“Regarding the DSG budget in particular, again this is a national problem, with Bromley – through its prudent financial management – being one of the last boroughs to go into deficit in this budget. A recovery plan is being worked on in liaison with DfE.”

An advisor is being brought in to cut the costs of transport spending.