(UK) More on SPED ruling against Bristol; 'funding needs to be sustainable' says council

Aug 6, 2018, (UK) Bristol Post: Bristol City Council had no regard for children’s welfare when making £5m SEND funding cuts Bristol City Council had no regard for children’s welfare and only cared about balancing their books when they made £5 million of ‘unfair’ funding cuts. Last Friday, two mums won a landmark case against the council after it made a 10 per cent reduction to its budget for children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND). The case, which is the first of its kind in the country, has set a precedent for other upcoming cases, with parents in Hackney and Surrey already launching similar judicial reviews. Bristol council has been ordered to reverse its cuts, which had been done without proper consultation, Judge Barry Cotter QC said in his judgement. He also said the council was only worried about making “balancing its books” and had not taken into consideration how the cuts might impact children, despite its lawyers insisting the council “actively promoted” children’s welfare…. “Indeed, the decision-making process appears to be driven entirely from the standpoint of ensuring a balanced budget by 2020/21.”… Here are the main points in the 33-page judgement Cuts were not consulted upon The courts heard Bristol City Council had consulted on how it planned to make cuts to other parts of its budget, but did not do so for its SEND budget. Its SEND budget had fallen into “significant operating deficit” in recent years, and it needed to find £5.1million in 2018/19 to balance the books. That amount was 10 per cent of the total SEN budget, with some £1.16million taken from special schools, and another £767,000 from schools with SEN children. They will also reduce £150,000 for Pupil Referral Units. “Bristol City Council will now have to reconsider its funding allocation to the High Needs Block budget and to do so in a lawful way, as the court has confirmed that the High Needs Budget will be quashed. … “The large pressure on our SEND budget is due to increasing demand and complexity of children and young people’s needs, but mostly because we do not get enough money from Government in this area. “It is clear to all sides that funding needs to be sustainable …"