Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Funding

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:15 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Labour, Gedling 3:15 pm, 12th February 2019

The love and care of parents and families with special needs children is humbling; we have all seen that. However, it has come to something—and we have to question ourselves as to how it has come to this—when, as my hon. Friend Justin Madders mentioned, in December’s Ofsted report the chief inspector said that something was deeply

“wrong when parents repeatedly tell inspectors that they have to fight to get the help and support that their child needs.”

I get told that regularly; there is no need to be an inspector. All hon. Members present today, without exception, will have taken up cases for constituents. Sometimes we get improvement, sometimes not. I say to the Minister that as a country and as a society, it cannot go on: it simply is not good enough.

By the end of 2020, Nottinghamshire County Council will have a £9.2 million shortfall in its high needs budget. I can cite that. Other hon. Members have quoted other figures, and those figures are real in balance sheet terms. But what does it mean for each and every family and each child? I am fairly articulate, as are all the Members here, but finding one’s way through the system and finding the person responsible for making a decision is sometimes an impenetrable task.

There is a funding issue, so the Minister needs to go and bang on the door of the Chancellor, supported by every single Member, and tell him that it is not acceptable for any Government of any colour to be in power with the situation that we have at the moment, when so many families across this country cannot access the support that they need for their child. It is not the sort of country that any of us want to be a part of. We need to do something about it.