I welcome the news that North Yorkshire is to receive up to £7m of extra cash for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and an additional £8-£10m for social care.
This is terrific. I have been campaigning hard for more money for the North and this is definitely a step in the right direction. North Yorkshire County Council’s budgets have been very stretched in recent times, partly because of the increased number of youngsters with special educational needs and a growing elderly population relying on adult social care. This money will make a huge difference to the services NYCC can offer and to the hardworking teachers and carers who look after these vulnerable people. In the long term we need to adopt a totally new approach to the funding of adult social care. Whilst this new money is very welcome the current system is not sustainable as, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), the funding gap for local authorities largely because of the huge cost of children’s services and social care is about £3billion and is likely to rise to £8billion within five years. Unless we find a new way of paying for it, it will fall to the taxpayer.
It comes hard on the heels of an announcement of more money for schools. Ten primary schools in Thirsk and Malton are to receive an increase on their existing budget per pupil to £3,750 in 2020-21 whilst the budget of six secondary schools in North Yorkshire will increase to £5,000 per pupil in the same period.
In a letter to me North Yorkshire County Council leader, Cllr Carl Les, was kind enough to thank me for the “tremendous support you have shown us and without which we would not have got such a good outcome for 2020-20.” Cllr Les asked me to provide “ongoing support to ensure that Fairer Funding is driven forward to address many of the funding inequities that are faced by rural areas.”
I will do everything that I can to ensure that the extra funding continues and increases beyond 2021 and will step up my campaign for a simpler and fairer system of funding to rebalance not only the differences between North and South but between cities and rural areas. I promise to work closely with my colleague and neighbouring MP and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak (Richmond), to achieve this.
More information for funding streams beyond March 2021 is expected to be published in the full spending review later this year.