Special needs funding shortfall
Around 90 percent of local authorities have revealed overspends of their special needs teaching budgets, prompting fears this may lead to pupils being disadvantaged.
According to figures seen by The Observer, 132 of England’s 151 upper-tier councils) overspent their high needs block (HNB) in 2019 – the grant that funds SEND education.
Only nine councils stayed within their HNB budget, with no data available for the remaining 10.
Figures show the total HNB shortfall in England for 2019 was £643million. To bridge the funding gap, many local authorities relocated money from other budgets.
Gillian Doherty, of campaign group SEND Action told The Observer: “It’s really concerning that the majority of local authorities are still in deficit. The ‘additional funding’ for SEND has not been sufficient to address existing deficits and funding shortfalls and has, therefore, made little impact on frontline services for disabled children and young people.
“We are still seeing cuts to specialist teaching services and top-up funding for mainstream schools in some areas, and many schools are seeing real-terms cuts in per pupil funding.”
The DfE has said that additional funding to local authorities – including £780million in 2021 and £730million in the following year should address the problem.
However, critics argues that new rules mean that local authorities are no longer allowed to adjust education overspends from other parts of their budget without the Government’s permission, meaning that future savings to cover SEND will need to be found from already overstretched education budgets. Contact us for assistance. Special needs funding shortfall.
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