(UK) Cambridgeshire: "GROWING DEMAND" for SPED/deficit soars

Nov 24, 2020, Cambridgeshire Live: Cambs school cuts expected next year as demand for special needs education increases Eastern England An increasing deficit for Cambridgeshire's special needs education funding threatens cuts to schools across the county, councillors and school leaders have been told…. …the increase in demand for SEND provision and a near £30 million [$40M U.S.] deficit on the SEND budget look set to absorb more than the increase in funds provided, the county council has said…. Later in the same meeting – the children and young people’s committee held on November 10 – Mr Lewis said, based on the illustrative allocation and the growing demands in SEND provision, in “headline figures” that there will be a “real-terms cut” to the county’s general schools budget next year…. Cambridgeshire County Council will be deciding its education budget early next year ahead of the start of the 2021/22 financial year…. Ultimately, the county council has said the increase in schools funding is expected to be taken up by two things – an increase in teachers’ pay and pension contributions, and a transfer of funds from the general budget to the SEND budget. 'Insufficient to meet current commitments'… Without transferring money in from other budgets, Cambridgeshire’s SEND budget is expected to rise eight per cent next year, to £82.5 million [$110M U.S.], but even that has been described by the council as “insufficient to meet current commitments”. One key funding pressure is an increasing number of pupils qualifying for extra special needs provision. Chair of the committee, Cllr Bywater said: “It seems to me that the argument is quite clear really, it’s just there is not enough funding to go around”. Councillor Lucy Nethsingha said: “It is deeply frustrating that we are still here, and we’ve been here before, and the deficit just carries on getting bigger and the government doesn’t seem to have a sensible solution for it”. Mr Lewis said that in the context of the SEND budget deficit and increasing demand: “I don’t see we have any choice but to continue to make further savings on the high needs block”…

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