20 Sep 2018

Education, Learning and Skills

Bristol Council releases new guide to funding services for young people with high needs

Bristol City Council is proposing to undo its planned savings to Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services and has committed to developing a new plan to improve the lives of children and young people with SEND.

Reports recommending the 2018/19 budget is restated without the savings plans included will be going to the Full Council meeting on 13 November. It is also not proposed to put savings forward for the High Needs Block when Full Council considers the 19/20 budget in February.

A Judicial Review this summer found the council did not follow the correct process when proposing to make £5m savings. The savings had been put forward to reduce the amount the council was overspending by as it does not get enough money from Government for these services.

The council has now produced a guide outlining the steps it has taken following the Judicial Review and how it will re-think its support for some of the most vulnerable people in the city.

Councillor Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “We have accepted that we made mistakes when looking to make savings from our High Needs Block budget, which funds our SEND services, and we have apologised for this.

“The review taught us that our prioritisation of equalities, specifically the way we consult and assess the impact of our decisions, must be better - and it will be.

“We now want to move forward and look at how we can improve the lives of children and young people with SEND over the longer term. Part of doing this involves proposing to restate the 2018/19 budget for the High Needs Block, without any savings proposals attached. But it’s also about taking a look at this from many different angles to come up with a robust plan about how we can improve things.

“We’ve been very transparent about the issues we are facing, from increasing demand for statutory plans to a chronic shortage of sufficient, sustainable funding from Government, and these problems are not going to go away. To overcome these challenges we will need to work together with families, schools and partners and we will be asking for everyone’s views on our new plan once it has been developed.”

Last month Full Council backed a motion calling for funding to be restored to the High Needs Block which supports children and young people with SEND and the highest needs.