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(UK) Wokingham: MPs fail to back call for "more money [for] special education"

Nov 12, 2023, Wokingham Today: MPs fail to sign letter calling for more SEND cash

W. of London

None of Wokingham’s MPs have backed calls for the government to spend more money on special educational needs services, despite a desperate need for cash by councils in the area.
Councils’ struggling to pay for special educational needs are leaving parents frequently unable to get vital support and education for their children for months.

Now a group of cash-strapped councils – the F40 Campaign, including Wokingham Borough – has got 31 MPs to sign a letter to the government asking for more funding. But none of the four MPs whose constituencies cover Wokingham joined them.

Wokingham councillor Prue Bray – in charge of children’s services – said the “most fundamental” problem facing the council’s struggling special educational needs services “is the low level of funding in our education system.”

She said: “That’s why we are part of the F40 group who have just sent a letter to ministers following a session in the house of parliament.

“MPs – sadly none of ours – signed a letter saying something has to be done to address the underfunding of some parts of the education system that would include us as an F40 member.”

Wokingham MP John Redwood insisted he had pressed the government for more funding for special educational needs. And he said the government had helped fund projects to build two new special educational needs schools in the borough.

He said: “I have taken up the needs of Wokingham to have more extensive special needs provision. I am pleased to remind you I recently attended the opening of the new facilities at Maiden Erlegh, and forwarded the government announcement of money for two new schools….

“I have offered to help the Council with well-based cases for more grants, but they did not seek my interventions in these areas.”

Mr Redwood added that Wokingham Borough Council did not invite him to sign the letter. The LDRS understands that MPs were invited to sign the letter and attend an event in parliament by the F40 campaign.

With the number of children seeking support – and the costs of providing that support – rising, both Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Borough councils say special educational needs services are a big pressure on spending.

Both councils are struggling to plug gaps of millions of pounds in their budgets. Wokingham’s other MPs – Matt Rodda, James Sunderland and Theresa May, have been approached for comment.

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