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(UK) Devon: 'Increased demand for special needs education, growing complexity' of needs

March 31, 2024, Crediton Courier: Government cash support for Devon’s special needs education

SW England

A HIGH level agreement has been signed between Devon County Council and the Government which will see an extra £95 million [$120M] of national funds set aside to reduce the deficit on special needs education.

Devon's cumulative spending on education for children with special needs and disabilities (SEND) over the past 10 years is set to create a deficit of £163 million [$205M] by the end of this financial year.

n common with many councils across the country, Devon has been negotiating with the Government  for extra funding for special needs education under the so-called Safety Valve programme.

Devon County Council has also set aside £10 million [$13M] this year to help bring down the deficit.

The new agreement will see the Government contribute £38 million [$48M] by the end of March with the remaining cash being spread out over the following eight years.

The council will contribute a further £5 million [$6.3M a year from its revenue budget and £20 million from reserves to bring the deficit back into balance by the end of the agreement.

In a letter from the Department for Education to Devon, a spokesperson says: "I am pleased to confirm that Ministers are content to enter into a Safety Valve agreement with your local authority.

"This will include the allocation of £95 million [$120M] of funding over nine years to contribute to the elimination of your deficit. Thank you for your hard work with advisors over recent months."

County council leader John Hart said: "I am delighted with this extra support from the Government which has recognised the financial problems that top tier councils like Devon have been experiencing across the country because of the hugely increased demand for special needs education and the growing complexity of the problems that these vulnerable children experience.

"This excellent outcome has been achieved through the hard work of our officers and Cabinet members through many months of intense negotiations."

Devon's Cabinet member for SEND, Lois Samuel, said: "This is a significant achievement and opportunity for the council. . . . 



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