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Special Educational Needs: Finance

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL6727, tabled on 8 March 2022

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to create a dedicated budget line for SEN funding.

Answered on

22 March 2022

The department has no plans to create a new dedicated budget for special educational needs (SEN), beyond the existing high needs block within the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). It is important that schools have the flexibility to decide on how best to support their pupils with SEN or disabilities (SEND), within all their available resources, and that they work closely with the relevant local authority in supporting those with more complex needs for whom additional resources are required.

Local authorities are required to provide mainstream schools, through the local schools funding formula, with sufficient funds to meet the additional cost of supporting pupils with SEN, up to £6,000 per pupil per annum. Local funding formulae vary in the way funding is allocated for this purpose, but all include factors which take account of the level of pupils’ disadvantage, for example, the number of pupils with low attainment in their previous phase of education.

Furthermore, local authorities give schools additional top-up funding from their high needs budget. This is used when the additional support required for a pupil cost more than £6,000 and can also support schools which are particularly inclusive or whose pupils have a greater range of SEN than the local funding formula might suggest. The high needs block of the DSG, which funds local authorities’ high needs budgets for children and young people with more complex needs, will total more than £9 billion in the 2022/23 financial year. This is a 13% increase over the 2021/22 financial year.

Local authorities’ funding processes differ, particularly those for allocating high needs funding to schools, but both the local school funding formula and the local high needs funding arrangements have to be discussed at the local schools forum.

Ultimately, local authorities are accountable for spending from the high needs allocation they receive from the department. Our guidance indicates that their responsibility for spending decisions should be discharged fairly, reasonably and after proper consultation.