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(UK) Waltham Forest: 10% SPED funds cut; 1374 students affected

July 31, 2020, East London Guardian: Waltham Forest Council defends special needs funding cuts https://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/18621374.waltham-forest-council-defends-special-needs-funding-cuts/ Waltham Forest Council insisted campaigners have “nowhere near” enough evidence to prove that its decision to cut funding for special needs education was unlawful. The council’s cabinet voted on March 19 to cut top-up Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) funding by 10 per cent for students in the lowest two bands of need from September 1. Campaign group Waltham Forest SEND Crisis brought the council before a judicial review, on behalf of two children with special needs who will be affected by the cuts. The council has long argued the decision is difficult but necessary and says students can be placed in a higher needs band if the cut makes their support inadequate. On the first day of the hearing on July 29, the campaigner’s lawyer David Wolfe argued delays in the process to apply for more funding meant children would “inevitably” experience illegal gaps in support. Yesterday (July 30), the council’s lawyer Peter Oldham insisted campaigners had offered no real evidence that there were delays in the SEND service…. They maintain that the decision is necessary, not only to save money and plug a £5.3 million [$7M U.S.] gap in the council’s budget, but also so the funding ladder can be rehauled entirely. A total of 1,374 children will see their funding reduced if the change goes ahead. Councils have a legal duty to provide whatever special educational support each child needs. A band E child’s funding would reduce by £843 in primary school and £714 in secondary school, while a band F child’s funding would reduce by £1,518 in primary school and £1,389 in secondary school….