On Thursday, 30th May 2019 children, parents, teachers and unions presented a petition of over 14,000 signatures to Number 10 Downing Street highlighting the lack of choice and cuts to Special Educational Needs and Disability – SEND services. Local authority funding has been slashed through the tory Government’s continuing austerity programme.
Shadow Minister for Labour, Laura Pidcock MP delivered a message for the outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, in her last days in Downing Street:
I was pleased to be able to deliver a brief solidarity message to the demo against the cuts to SEND provision today. The children, parents & campaigners who are taking this fight to the Govt deserve all of our support, but they really shouldn't have to. What an absolute disgrace. pic.twitter.com/bM8m2jCwz4
— Laura Pidcock (@LauraPidcock) May 30, 2019
The largest education union in Europe, the National Education Union, NEU has recently revealed that special needs provision in England has lost out on £1.2bn since 2015, because of shortfalls in funding increases from central Government. Funding granted to local authorities has failed to keep pace with rapidly increasing demand for SEND provision – the number of children and young people with an Education Health and Care Plan has increased by 33% since 2015. This contrasts with a 6% increase in the high needs block funding over the same period.
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:
“This is clearly a crisis, with pupils and parents bearing the brunt of real-terms funding cuts and the wholly inadequate planning by Government. Last year, when the NEU won an additional £350m for children and young people with additional needs, the Government admitted that ‘more needs to be done’. We hold them to those words today. Get on with it.” This follows the call for the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds MP to act now!
In Lewisham, the NEU has estimated that cut to be £15, 816,314 since 2015. This affects the provision within schools and support services like educational psychologists delivered by the Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services CAMHS.
Back in 2018, the Save the Lewisham Hospital Campaign were successful in getting cuts to CAMHS reversed in Lewisham and Jon Ashworth, MP the Shadow Secretary of State said this:
This simply isn’t good enough for a Prime Minister who describes mental health provision as a “burning injustice”. Despite Theresa May’s promises, mental health injustices are not ending under this Tory Government but getting worse.
We know that early intervention is absolutely critical in tackling mental health issues, with 50% of mental health problems being established by age 14. Therefore, Labour will increase the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people, and end the scandal of children being treated on adult mental health wards. And crucially we will ring-fence mental health budgets to ensure funding reaches the frontline. Overall we would be putting an extra £5 billion into the NHS this year which would mean more money for CAMHS in Lewisham.
For too long mental health provision has been neglected, cut back and poor inadequate private sector provision has been allowed to go unchecked.
There is little that is more important than the mental health of our children. I want to see public services for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services strengthened. So we will deliver a public universal NHS with more investment in mental health services, and I pledge that the next Labour Government will deliver parity of esteem [for mental health] after years of Tory failure to do so.
Jon Ashworth, MP Shadow Secretary of State for Health & Social Care
Following this Lewisham Council’s Scrutiny Business Panel asked for a full review and the then Mayor Sir Steve Bullock was forced to halt the proposed cuts.
As the Government prepares for the next spending round and Councils have to fix their budgets for 2019/20 the campaign is more important than ever. The next steps are here:
On 30 March, @SendCrisis delivered a petition signed by thousands to Downing Street.
— National Education Union (@NEUnion) June 1, 2019