Aylesbury MP, Rob Butler, calls for extra funding for special needs children

Aylesbury MP Rob Butler has used a speech in the House of Commons to call for more funding for local children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Rob highlighted complaints he has received from parents about the difficulties of securing Educational and Health Care Plans (EHCPs), as well as the dramatic rise in the number of requests for ECHPs made to Buckinghamshire Council.

Rob said:

“Too often, the families of the children with SEND feel that they are being left to fight a ferociously complicated system to get their child into special schools and ensure that they have the support they need.

The team at Buckinghamshire Council and I have discussed those concerns to try to find ways to help, but it is no surprise that the council has highlighted funding as a major challenge.

The cost of SEND education can be exceptionally high, and it is not unusual for the cost of residential placements for children with the most complex and serious needs to run to hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

Rob continued

“Locally, since 2016, there has been a 101% increase in requests for EHCPs. Since 2020, the unit costs for children’s placements have increased by 30%. As a result, Bucks Council is looking at bringing some provision in-house to try to contain some of the costs, but that cannot happen overnight. In the meantime, it must try to find the extra money.”

The MP called on ministers to provide additional funding to Buckinghamshire Council to ensure that the demand can be met.

Rob said:

“The SEND Green Paper and the SEND and alternative provision improvement plan, published in March 2023, made clear the need to update the funding model. The Government are not ignorant to this, and I am pleased with their direction of travel. I am also pleased that £10 billion of high-needs funding has been allocated for the coming financial year, representing a cash-terms increase of 12%.

Rob added that while the high-needs block funding has nearly doubled in cash terms since 2013-14, Buckinghamshire Council fares very poorly compared with many other local authorities, with much lower allocations of funding.

16th January 2024