Suffolk MPs unite for special educational needs and disabilities funding call
All seven of Suffolk’s MPs have united in calling on the education secretary to address special educational needs and disabilities funding inequalities which disproportionately impacts the county.
The seven Conservative MPs have penned a joint letter to Nadhim Zahawi outlining Suffolk’s plight, calling for a review of the funding formula and requesting a meeting with the education secretary.
The letter said: “We are unfortunately disappointed to see the stark disparity in funding for provision of special educational needs and disabilities in our region compared to other areas,” specifically pointing to underfunding in the High Needs Budget.
According to the letter, per-pupil funding from the High Needs Budget was £56 lower in Suffolk than neighbouring Norfolk this year.
It also highlighted an academy chain with schools in both Suffolk and Tower Hamlets in London, where per-pupil funding for SEND pupils with mild or moderate needs was four times higher in the Tower Hamlets school, two-and-a-half times higher for moderate to significant needs, and double for significant or severe needs.
“We know how essential early intervention is to making positive difference to the lives of children with special educational needs and disabilities,” the letter said.
“Only with adequate and fair levels of funding can Suffolk successfully deliver for those students, ensuring children with SEND have the right support.”
The letter comes as Suffolk County Council’s SEND service undergoes an improvement plan following a series of failings raised in an independent report by Lincolnshire County Council.
Last week’s meeting of the county council education scrutiny committee recommended the administration pump more resources in the budget from April to aid efforts.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said: “This [fair funding] is something I feel strongly about – I’ve always been vocal about provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities, especially when it comes to our local services.”
“The funding numbers I have seen make it clear that Suffolk is getting less compared to other counties.
“I think a child with learning disabilities in Suffolk should be as well supported as a child in any county, be that Norfolk, London or anywhere else.”
The letter signatories were Peter Aldous (Waveney), James Cartlidge (South Suffolk), Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds), Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal), Matt Hancock (West Suffolk) Tom Hunt (Ipswich), and Dr Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich).
The Department for Education said Suffolk received £2.1million through the high needs provision capital allocations announced in April, and revenue funding changes nationally would mean an increase of at least eight per cent per head.
A spokesperson added: “The Government is committed to supporting local authorities in managing cost pressures for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in their area, with a total of £8.9 billion dedicated to high needs funding.
“Our ongoing cross-government SEND review will also look to ensure more consistency across the system, supporting children and young people with SEND as efficiently and effectively as possible.”