An extra £2.5m for children’s services in North Yorkshire is great news

I am absolutely delighted that there is to be more money for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in my constituency over the next two years. This announcement comes hard on the heels of a meeting I had with the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, when I made a strong case for further resources to fund additional responsibilities required by Westminster. North Yorkshire County Council has been under significant pressure, with an £11 million pound overspend on children’s services, most of which can be attributed to the Education and Health Plans (EHP), which were introduced in 2014 and which have been successful in providing support tailored to the needs of the individual child and putting families at the heart of the process. But the fact is this additional service has to be paid for.

County Council leader, Carl Les said after the announcement “Like most authorities we have seen a significant rise in the numbers of children with an Education, Health and Care Plan. We are looking at a budget overspend approaching £6m this year alone if we don`t take action, but this extra money is very welcome, and I`m pleased that the County Council Network nationally, and our MP`s including Kevin Hollinrake, locally, have pressed our case and the Minister has listened.”

NYCC Chief Executive, Richard Flinton also gave his reaction. He said “The additional funding provided by Government on Special Educational Needs is extremely welcome, we are particularly grateful for the support from Kevin Hollinrake and other MPs to highlight the issue with Government. The additional funding, along with the other steps that we are taking, helps to provide some breathing space but we do need Government to take a full grip of the issue and provide a long term funding solution”

The Secretary of State said the Government will be introducing other measures to support local authorities which include extra funding, yet to be announced for improved facilities; removal of the cap on the number of special and alternative provision free school bids, where the criteria is met; establishing a new SEND System Leadership Board focused on improving local joint commissioning; joint round tables between the Departments of Education and Social Care so that all those involved in the delivery and use of the SEND system can have a greater opportunity to provide feedback; improved teacher training provision and a greater supply and training of Educational Psychologists.

This is all really good news. It is hugely important that we support children with special educational needs and make sure that they have every opportunity to do well at school, find good jobs and are able to live fulfilled lives and I would like to congratulate the Secretary of State for acting so swiftly.