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Leaders warn SEND support 'buckling'

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Leaders across Yorkshire & the Humber have warned the system supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is “buckling” and called on the government to act to stem spiralling overspends.

The 15 councils in the region are reporting a collective SEND overspend this year of £42.7m, with plans to use £32m from reserves and transfer more than £10m from school budgets to meet demand.

From 2014-15 to 2017-18 councils in the region say they spent £86m more than they received from central government in SEND funding, used £44m from reserves and top sliced nearly £42m from school budgets.

Leaders say the crisis has been caused by the new system of education and health care (EHC) plans established by the Children and Families Act 2014, which increased the age range for support and placed further demand on budgets.

There has been a 46% increase in EHC plans across Yorkshire and the Humber since the reforms were introduced, councils say.

North Yorkshire CC leader Carl Les (Con) said: “Unless the government agrees in the spending review to fund special educational needs provision fully, council overspending in this area will increase further and become totally unsustainable. The system will buckle.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake (Lab) said: “The government has dealt a poor hand to the some of the nation’s most vulnerable children and young people and we are now demanding they give this crisis their urgent attention.”

LGC research in March found significant weaknesses in support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being identified in an increasing number of areas amid concern funding is insufficient to meet rising demand.

Analysis commissioned by the Local Government Association published last month revealed overspends on budgets supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are projected to more than double this year to half a billion pounds.

The Department for Education has been approached for comment.

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