SEND Services: Lancashire

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

What assessment he has made of progress on delivering the actions set out in the written statement of action issued in response to the 2017 inspection of services for children and young people with SEND in Lancashire.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Lancashire produced a written statement of action, which Ofsted has assessed as fit for purpose. Advisers from the Department and NHS England are now monitoring and supporting the implementation of the written statement of action. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will revisit the area in early 2020 to assess progress.

Photo of Rosie Cooper Rosie Cooper Labour, West Lancashire

Will the Minister indicate what funding is being made available to Lancashire County Council, for example through the high needs block of the dedicated schools grant, to enable it to fix the failings outlined in the Ofsted report, given that Lancashire County Council is already £10 million overspent and it is estimated that there is an overspend in this area of half a billion nationally?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Yesterday, we announced that local authorities will receive an additional £250 million of high needs funding over two years, plus £100 million of capital funding to make more places available. That will take our total spend per annum on high needs funding to over £6 billion.

Photo of Mike Kane Mike Kane Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

That answer shows that the Minister has his head in the sand. In addition to what is happening in Lancashire, new research for the Local Government Association shows that by 2020-21 there will be a potential £1.6 billion gap in funding for special educational needs and disabilities nationally. Given that there is no new money, according to what the Secretary of State said on the television at the weekend, when will the Government ensure that children with SEND are able to access the education they deserve?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

This is new money—£250 million plus £100 million for capital spending—from the underspend in the Department. The additional funding will help local authorities and schools with the increasing costs of provision for some of our most vulnerable children and young people. I think it is a shame that the Opposition are scaremongering in this way with the most vulnerable families in our society.