(UK) Devon County faces $24M (US) overspend in special education

Nov 9, 2019, Radio EXE, 107.3: 'Depressing' report reveals county overspend The projected overspend is now up to £32m A senior councillor has called Devon County Council’s latest budget report ‘the most depressing finance report I have read’. Councillors in September heard that in total, the council was projecting a £28.1m [$36M U.S.] overspend for 2019/20, but that the month four position was ‘always the worst’. But a report of Mary Davis, the County Treasurer, to next Wednesday’s cabinet meeting states at month six, the council is now projecting a £32m [$41M U.S.] overspend. Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said that the report is the most depressing finance report he has read in over 10 years as a County Councillor and that it shows Devon’s schools, children and vulnerable adults are being short changed…. And the Dedicated Schools Grant funding shortfall relating to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities has also increased by £2.9m to £18.7m [$24M U.S.], with the recommendation for it to be carried forward to future years as a ‘negative reserve’…. • …Children’s services are forecasting an overspending of £6.6m. • Children’s Social Care is forecast to overspend by £4.4m. • The total overspending on children’s placements is forecast to be £1.3m due to a lack of sufficiency in the residential market is leading to young people being placed in alternative settings with high cost support packages • Disabled Children’s Services are forecast to overspend by just under £1.9m, although a significant proportion of this forecast is associated with one exceptionally high cost placement. • The Atkinson Secure Children’s Home is forecasting an overspend of £203,000 due to recruitment and retention issues at the Home having had an adverse impact upon occupancy levels • The non-Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) element of Education and Learning is forecasting an overspend of £2.3m • The DSG High Needs Block, Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) is forecasting a funding shortfall of £18.7m for the current financial year. There have been a further 33 placements since month 4 within Independent Special Schools, taking the average projection for the year to 568 placements compared to a budgeted level of 430. … “Government funding for children in Devon is simply failing to meet the needs across the county. The Conservatives running County Hall admit the debts are too much to manage. They plan to put this on the Council ‘credit card’ while hoping to pay it off in years to come. This is likely to mean more cuts to services in future. “It is proof, if ever it were needed, that Devon’s schools, children and vulnerable adults are being short changed.”