Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite has written to Gavin Williamson MP on his appointment as Secretary of State for Education about the crisis in children’s services.
Dear Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP,
Congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State for Education.
In Lambeth, as well as in other local authorities in England, children social care is chronically under-funded and therefore overspending. Over the last few years our core funding from the government has been cut by more than half; that adds up to over £230m slashed from our budget between 2010 and 2020.The combination of rising demand and costs in the face of funding reductions has placed our services under considerable strain.
In the case of education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), there has been a dramatic and sustained rise in demand for support, brought about by the very rapid increase in children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans (31% over four years). Spending has increased fast, leaving London boroughs with an in-year shortfall in 2017-18 of 7% or over £77 million.
Without the appropriate funding, we are under considerable strain to provide services to our most vulnerable children and young people. Lambeth’s pressures in SEND this year are over £4 million, on top of our huge pressures in adult social care due to NHS cuts, and the impact of the Government cuts to our Dedicated Schools Grant. The lack of funding must be addressed in the next Spending Review, ensuring the sustainability of these services. In making future funding decisions in the next Spending Review, national government should recognise that children’s services operate within a complex eco-system and that significant and ongoing reductions in one area of local government and partner funding are likely to have knock-on implications in other areas.
We will continue to work with parents, schools and our staff on how we deal with the reality of this situation as we are dedicated to providing the best services and support for our young residents. But we require urgent action to address the funding crisis from your government. I look forward to hearing from you and would welcome a visit from you or your Ministers so we could explore the provision of services for young people in Lambeth.
Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite
Deputy Leader of Lambeth Council and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People