Services for disabled children in Sheffield have been fairly protected from the government’s austerity programme – until now. When faced with another significant reduction in central government funding for 2014/15, councillors decided that they could no longer afford to exempt any service areas.
This year’s budget includes cuts totalling around £1.5m to services for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities. The following services are affected:
Post-16 placements (£390,000 saving)
Savings will be made by reducing the cost of SEN and post-16 learning disability placements. This will be done by “taking a holistic and multi-agency approach to individual needs which supports young people to access opportunities on a bespoke basis”. By increasing in-city provision for post-16 special educational needs, the council hopes to enable some young people currently in more costly out-of-city provision to return to Sheffield.
Short breaks and respite care (£350,000 saving)
Savings will be made by “reducing the cost of external placements through increased local provision”. A consultation into the Respite and Short Breaks Service will be held in early April.
Educational Psychology (£300,000 saving)
The savings will be achieved by charging schools for the non-statutory elements of the service. The council will continue to provide statutory educational psychology services free of charge.
SEN Services (included in £300,000 saving)
£300,000 will be saved from the budget for Inclusion and Targeted Services, which includes services for children with SEN.
SEN Transport (£200,000 saving)
The council wants to save money by encouraging independent travel where appropriate, and by reviewing the use of escorts and the use of discretionary travel.
Special Needs Inclusion Playcare Service (SNIPS) (£100,000 saving)
Savings will be a achieved by a reduction in management.
Early Years Inclusion Team (£80,000 saving)
Savings will be made by reshaping the Early Years Inclusion Team and integrating it within the wider Early Years service.
We are extremely concerned about the scale of these cuts – particularly in relation to the SEN reforms to be introduced later this year, which will have major capacity implications. We are currently trying to establish what the impact on frontline services will be, and are working on a response.
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