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Councils miss deadlines for children with complex needs

  • May 20, 2024
  • 2 min read
Councils miss deadlines for children with complex needs

Thousands of children in England with complex needs are missing out on support due to councils missing carer plan deadlines. Councils are given a legal limit of 20 weeks, in many cases, to provide an education, health, and care plan (EHCP) once a parent or school requests one.

According to BBC News, eight councils have met the deadline in fewer than 5% of cases between April and December 2023. Growing demand and insufficient funding, councils say, are causing these delays.

An EHCP would set out the additional help that a child needs to be able to access education, on top of what is available to them through special educational needs support. This can include one-to-one lesson time, or help in learning at home for those where there needs are such that a school may not be suitable.

Over 1.5 million pupils in England have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). The latest figures show that 517,000 children and young people were on EHCP in 2023. This is the highest amount on record.  

The government has said that “high-needs funding” for those with complex needs is rising to £10.5 billion in 2024-25. This is an increase of over 60% since 2019-20. Councils, it said, were responsible for making sure that children in their area are given appropriate education.

However, many councils are finding it difficult. A report published in February found that a tenth of councils that responded said that they plan to cut services for children with SEND. This is to balance their books.

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