Bristol City Council announces proposed SEND budget boost for 2020/21: SEND-2

14 Jan 2020

Education, Learning and Skills

Bristol City Council announces proposed SEND budget boost for 2020/21

Bristol City Council is proposing to increase its Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) budget by over £1.3m.

The proposed budget boost will help fund its Education Transformation Programme and address the Ofsted/Care Quality Commission (CQC) Inspection findings.

The Education Transformation Programme is the council’s long-term plan to develop, improve and transform its education service - including SEND.

The findings of the Ofsted/CQC inspection of SEND services across Bristol’s local area were published at the end of last year, highlighting areas for improvement as well as calling for a joint action plan with partners to deliver rapid progress and long-term change for families and young people with SEND.

Councillor Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said: “Like many other local authorities across England we are transforming a service which continues to see increasing demand while being critically underfunded by central government.

“Funding for SEND is a priority for us and we will continue to ask the government for fair and appropriate levels of funding that match our needs in Bristol; however this is of immense importance and we must act now, so are looking to make the necessary adjustments in our budget to ensure we can fund the programme now and drive improvements for the future.”

Key points in papers published last week, ahead of the Schools Forum in Bristol, include an increase in national government funding for SEND in Bristol and the council’s proposal to move additional funding into SEND.

The council’s proposal to the Schools Forum, held tomorrow (15 January), is to reallocate money generally available to schools into the High Needs Block (HNB) - a budget specifically for children and young people with additional needs.

Under the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) regulations, local authorities can move up to 0.5% of their allocated budget, which will be just over £1.3m, to areas of greatest need.

Schools, like the council, recognise the urgent need to drive improvements in SEND in Bristol and will be supported so there is minimal short-term impact on the budgets of other education priorities.

The DSG funding also shows an increase to the HNB budget from central government of 13% from £53.9m to over £60m – an increase of around £6.74m.

The HNB budget continues to be under pressure and is expected to only just cover spending at the same level as this year, and does not address historic funding deficits or any potential future increase in need.

The council will be considering its 2020/21 budget at Cabinet on 20 January where it will also be seeking to increase resources to help improve statutory assessment processes and Education Health Care (EHC) plan timeframes.