Services in England face a projected shortfall of £536m this year – more than double the gap they faced the previous year as councils struggle to cope with rising demand for support, a survey of 73 councils by the Local Government Association (LGA) found. The Independent reports.
It also discovered that the they would have a total deficit of £280m by the end of 2018/19. Scaled up, this could translate to a deficit of more than £500m pounds.
Unveiling the research at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester, it argued that the deficit puts at risk the ability of councils to fulfil their statutory duties.
The study indicated that councils have overspent their allocated budgets for children with SEND, known as the “High Needs Block”, for the last four years.
Anntoinette Bramble, chairwoman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Councils have pulled out all the stops to try and do this, but are reaching the point where the money is simply not there to keep up with demand. Schools are also being pushed to the brink by the underfunding of SEND, at a time when there is already severe pressure on general schools funding.”
Nadhim Zahawi, children and families minister, said: “Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is exactly the same for every other child – to achieve well in education, and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. This is why we’ve introduced Education Health and Care plans, tailored to each individual, to ensure they are supported while they study.
“In 2018-19 councils will receive £6bn of funding for young people with more complex SEND – an increase from £5bn in 2013. However, we recognise that local authorities are facing cost pressures on high needs which is why we are monitoring local authority spending decisions and keeping the overall level of funding under review.”
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