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LGO upholds 80% of Education and Health Care Plan complaints

Eight out of 10 complaints about Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP) investigated by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) are upheld, Michael King has revealed.

Speaking at a conference yesterday, King said that out of nearly 140 cases that the ombudsman had investigated in detail, eight out of 10 of those were upheld.

All children with existing Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN) should be transferred to new plans by April 2018, but the Ombudsman has seen “significant delays” in the process - sometimes by up to 90 weeks.

Investigators also identified failures to involve parents and young people properly in the decision-making process, not gathering sufficient evidence to inform decisions, and a lack of proper forward planning when young people move between key educational stages.

King told the conference: “We know many authorities are struggling to meet the April deadline for transferring statements, and I want to stress they need to ensure provision remains in place if transfers to EHC Plans have not occurred by the deadline.”

He added: “In the cases that come to us, we are seeing worrying patterns of delay, inadequate evidence gathering and poor administration and this is having a significant impact on the children and families the new plans were designed to help.

“While we recognise the increasing pressure on Children’s Services departments, we will continue to make decisions based on the law, guidance and rights and not on diminishing budgets.”

The statement follows October’s publication of the ombudsman’s focus report on the problems that parent of children with SEN face, based on its first 100 investigations.

The report highlighted the “disproportionate burden” faced by parents “fighting” for their children to get the support that they are entitled to, and gave local authorities best practice guidance.

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