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(UK) Oxfordshire: $149M SPED shortfall expected by 2025; 125% increase in 7 years

Jan 12, 2023, Banbury Guardian: Oxfordshire's head of children’s services says county needs clout to fix special education finances

S. England

Oxfordshire’s director of children’s services believes the county needs more clout as well as cash to plug the black hole in special educational needs finances.

The number of people with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) in Oxfordshire is now above 5,000, 125 per cent up on what it was seven years ago.

Oxfordshire County Council, the body responsible for delivering EHCPs and the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision, says high needs block funding from the government has only gone up 49 per cent in that time.

The shortfall is funded by what is called a negative reserve, a bill that sits on the books of councils. As things stand it does not need to be repaid until 2025 but the ongoing annual shortfall – currently predicted to be £17.5 million [$20.M] for the current financial year – is expected to result in a total deficit of £122 million [$149M] by that point.

Kevin Gordon, director of children’s services at Oxfordshire County Council, told councillors on the people overview & scrutiny committee this week that there was no sign of promised national reform coming through on the legacy this leaves or the ongoing problem.


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