Kingston Council welcomes new government agreement on SEND funding
Kingston Council has secured agreement from the Department for Education to cover a long standing deficit in the amount it receives to support children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
The new funding agreement, which will be implemented over the next 5 years, is the result of intense lobbying by Kingston Council and its children’s services provider Achieving for Children to get a fairer funding settlement from the government. Since 2012 Kingston Council has not received enough money from central government to cover the cost of delivering SEND services. This has meant it has had to spend far more than it receives in funding to support children and young people across the borough, placing a huge strain on council finances. By the end of this month the funding gap would have reached £25 million.
The agreement to cover the deficit is subject to the delivery of Kingston’s SEND Futures Plan, which sets out how support for children and young people with SEND will be transformed across the borough. The plan includes proposals to improve the support provided to children and young people with SEND attending mainstream schools, expand the number of local special school places and develop new opportunities for young adults with disabilities within the Kingston community.
Councillor Diane White, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, including Education, welcomed the news.
“Kingston Council has had to work incredibly hard since 2012 to fund the growing shortfall in the amount we receive from central government to provide SEND services across the borough. This agreement is the result of years of hard work to secure a deal that meets the existing costs of delivering these vital services for our children and young people.
“We will be continuing to work in very close partnership with Achieving for Children to deliver the SEND Futures plan to transform the support and services we provide, and this new agreement will underpin that work.”
According to the new agreement, a total of £27 million will be paid over the next 5 years, and a £3 million advance received by the council in 2018 will now not have to be repaid. The council will receive £9 million of the money this financial year, along with the £3 million debt write off, totalling a £12 million benefit this year. Further payments over the coming four years should clear the council’s SEND funding deficit by 2025.
Councillor Andreas Kirsch, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Commissioning said the agreement was important for the council’s future financial sustainability.
“The gap between what we have had to spend on delivering SEND services and the amount we receive in funding was £19m by the end of March 2020, and would have been around £25 million by the end of March this year without this deal.
“This new funding agreement is vital, as it allows us to reduce the SEND deficit to zero over the next five years. That is fantastic news, and helps to put the council on a much more sustainable financial footing for the future.”