Commenting in response to the High Court Judicial Review, Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Finance, said: “We are disappointed by the court’s decision and will carefully consider the detail of the judgement and what implications it has before making a decision about what to do next.
“We truly appreciate how sensitive this issue is, and know it is difficult to contemplate changing budgets without causing concern. We want to stand united with local families and schools in highlighting the national funding shortage for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and work together with them on a way forward. It always was and remains our intention to work closely with everyone affected wherever required, considering carefully the details of how we might reduce spending and deliver SEND services within the grant given by Government.
“The large pressure on our SEND budget is due to increasing demand and complexity of children and young people’s needs, but mostly because we do not get enough money from Government in this area. It is clear to all sides that funding needs to be sustainable and along with many other authorities we have written to the Government to highlight its lack of appropriate funding.
“We must still consider how this issue can be resolved. We will continue to make the case to Government for a sustainable, long term funding source whilst we work with local families, young people and education settings on the way forward for SEND services in Bristol.”
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said:
“While we await to see the implications this ruling could have for councils, the LGA has been clear all along that the Government needs to provide significant, ongoing and sustainable funding to help councils manage the rising demand in support from pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
“We have previously warned that unless councils are given the funding to meet this need, they may not be able to meet their statutory duties and children with high needs or disabilities could miss out on a mainstream education.
“This is why we are calling for an urgent review of funding to meet the unprecedented rise in demand that councils are experiencing.”