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Bristol families launch High Court challenge against government’s special needs cash cuts

Families have launched a High Court legal challenge against the government’s special education needs (SEN) funding cuts after successfully taking Bristol council to court.

Two mums took the council to court over £5m worth of cuts to SEN funding earlier this year and their victory has since led to other judicial reviews against councils in Surrey, Hackney and Somerset.

Now, a national case has been opened against the government over its funding policy and the impact this has on the most vulnerable in our society.

The parents are calling for education secretary Damian Hinds and chancellor Philip Hammond to increase the funding for local authorities so their children and thousands of others get the treatment they need.

Brought by Irwin Mitchell solicitors on behalf of the families, the case has now reached the High Court and is awaiting approval for a judicial review.

The families, from North Yorkshire, Birmingham and East Sussex, have formed a group called SEND Family Action, and have been granted legal aid in their challenge against the government.

One of the mothers, Mary, commented: “Thousands of children with specialist and complex needs, who through no fault of their own require support, are being left in limbo because of how government hands money to councils.

“From our experience and from what other families have told us, it is abundantly clear councils feel that the funding made available from central government is insufficient.”

The application comes after the announcement from the Department for Education of an additional £350m for SEND funding to support children with complex needs and disabilities over the next two years.

Earlier this month, Ofsted called special educational needs funding a “national scandal” with so many missing out on support, and said there was still “a long way to go” before these children receive “the support they deserve.”



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