Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson has secured a meeting with the Minister for Children and Families to discuss her campaign to end the crisis in funding for children with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) by developing a new national #SEND strategy.
In her first Westminster Hall debate in Parliament, the Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson warned that there was a “perfect storm” in SEND funding as both Conservative school cuts and increased demand on councils had created a system characterised by “delay and indecision”.
In response, the Minister for Children and Families, Michelle Donelan, confirmed she does “share [Munira Wilson] her concerns” and agreed to meet with Munira Wilson to discuss further.
Looking ahead to the meeting, the Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to launch a national strategy to end the culture of buck-passing between councils, schools and health services in the design and funding of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). The party believes a national strategy would help central and local government better coordinate special school places across the country.
Following the debate, Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson said:
“Support for children at school with SEND is faltering. It is trapped in a vicious downward spiral, as Conservative school cuts and increased demand have overburdened the system, leading to delay and indecision. Meanwhile, thousands of children miss out on the assistance they need.
“The Government must use the next Budget to end the SEND funding crisis by injecting funding into the areas that need it most. But we also need leadership from Ministers. A national SEND strategy could help councils share services and expertise, and force schools, councils and health agencies to work together in the interests of every child.
“The education and opportunities we give to our most disadvantaged children depend on us getting the system right. Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to make sure that the Government tackles those challenges head-on.”
Munira Wilson MP’s debate on SEND funding took place on 29th January. 2020 in Westminster Hall.
In the 2019 General Election, Liberal Democrats campaigned to half the £6,000 many councils force schools to pay towards a child on an EHCP.
At the party’s Autumn Conference in September 2019, Liberal Democrat members approved an amendment calling on the Government to end the crisis in SEND funding, launch a National SEND Strategy and toughen enforcement of the existing 20-week waiting time for an EHCP to be approved.