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Have your say on future funding of services for children and families with SEND

Richmond Council is asking families for their view on the future of services for children and their families with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The Council has seen a 20% rise in the number of children who meet the criteria for SEND support over just the last three years. Currently there are 2,265 children and young people in the borough who receive SEN support. In addition, there are around 1,330 children who have significant and complex special educational needs and / or disabilities. It is anticipated that over the next 12 months over 100 new families will need support.

However, despite this, the Government has failed to provide anywhere near sufficient funding to match this increase in demand.

Current forecasts predict that by 31 March 2019 we will have a financial deficit of around £13million to provide these services.

Richmond Council and Achieving for Children (AfC) is committed to providing quality services to children and their families with SEND and are determined to support the additional children now coming forward. However, if we are to achieve this, we do need to review the way these services are provided, to ensure that they are being provided in the most effective way.

School and SEND funding is a very complex area, governed by regulations and guidance. Therefore, AfC, on behalf of the Council, is carrying out a consultation with families looking at the current financial situation and a series of future funding options which could be considered to bring SEND service expenditure more inline with what the Council receives from the Government.

These proposals consider options to reprioritise funding from the wider school’s budget.

Cllr Penny Frost, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said:

“The Government funding crisis around SEND is growing. Councils across the country have been left to pick up the pieces. Along with other local authorities we are lobbying the Government for vital additional funding to help support our most vulnerable residents. But so far, our appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

“So, whilst the Government are seemingly oblivious to the funding crisis, we need to look at the way we provide our services. Last year our funding shortfall was £8m - this is now expected to rise to £13m by March 2019.

“We are not proposing any radical cuts to services, but we do need to look at where we can be more efficient. We want families to help us. We are being open and honest about the funding, and the potential opportunities to make savings or reallocate our budgets. Now, we want families in the borough to help guide our decision.

“Over the next few weeks we are holding a number of drop-in sessions for families to come and ask questions. And, information is available online.

“I want to reiterate, SEND services are so very important to Richmond Council. But, if we don’t review the funding now, the deficit is only going to increase.”

For more information or to have your say, go to:

The drop-in sessions are:

  • Friday, 16 November 2018 1.00 to 2.30pm
  • Monday, 19 November 2018 7.00 to 8.30pm
  • Tuesday, 20 November 2018, 10.30am to 12 Noon

Location: The Venue, Heatham House Youth Centre, Whitton Road, Twickenham TW1 1BH

The consultation closes on 25th November 2018.

— from a Richmond Council press release - 29 October 2018