Yorkshire councils receive £11m boost for special needs facilities

Yorkshire will get a 11m chunk of the 215m fund
Yorkshire will get a 11m chunk of the 215m fund
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Local authorities in Yorkshire are in line to receive more than £11 million in additional funding to help improve facilities for children with special needs.

Councils will be free to spend the money “as they see fit”, with each individual authority receiving a minimum of £500,000 between 2018/19 and 2020/21.

The money forms part of a wider Government commitment to create new school places for children with special educational needs that was initially announced in 2015.

Unveiling the new funding today, children’s minister Edward Timpson will reiterate the Government’s determination to ensure “no child is left behind”.

“[We are] determined to build a country that works for everyone – a country where every child has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their background, and any challenges they may face,” he will say.

“We’ve already made the biggest changes for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in a generation, but we want to go further and build on that success.”

The total national fund comes to £215m over the next three years, with councils across Yorkshire awarded £11.2m. Leeds will receive the biggest amount, at £1m a year, with Sheffield getting £496,000, Wakefield £302,000, and Kirklees £352,000.

The Department for Education said the money is delivering on the Government’s 2015 spending review pledge to “invest in new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities”.

But councils are free to use the fund for a whole variety of projects, including specialised classrooms, mobility equipment or life skills training.

The announcement comes amid warnings that schools across England are facing a real-terms cut to funding of up to £bn between now and 2020.

The National Association of Head Teachers yesterday claimed schools in Yorkshire risk losing out on the equivalent of up to £489 per pupil as a result.

It also comes amid speculation that a demand on Government departments to find another 3-6 percent of efficiency savings could see previously ring-fenced budgets – including education – raided to meet the new target.

However, responding to news of the additional funding, the Local Government Association said it was “pleased” the Government has listened to its concerns about underfunding of special educational needs (SEND) services.

Spokesman Richard Watts said: “This new money is a step in the right direction a time when the demand for support from parents and families with SEND is rising.”