Families Considering Possible Appeal
Families of children with special educational needs have lost their High Court legal challenge opposing Surrey County Council’s decision to reduce its SEND budget by £11 million.
Expert Opinion“The decision to take this case to the High Court was one that was not taken lightly. We feel that we put forward very strong legal arguments on behalf of the families as to how they believed they would be severely affected by the county council’s plans.
“Shortly before the hearing, Surrey County Council conceded that it would not make any changes to SEND services and that it estimated a spend of around £4 million more than its budget had anticipated during the 2018/19 financial year – a significant result for the families who brought this case. However, the council was clear that it still intended to make the cuts in future financial years, meaning that the families had no real option but to fight on to the hearing.
“While the families would like to thank the Judge for thoroughly examining their case, they are now considering whether to apply for permission to appeal.
“This case does not mean that future decisions to cut budgets and services cannot be challenged – each case must be considered on its facts. It is important that families seek legal advice as quickly as possible if they are concerned about the impact of a decision or policy by a public body.
“What this case and other cases around the country have highlighted is that cuts to SEND budgets and services are causing a great deal of distress to tens of thousands of families. It is an issue which is likely to become of increasing concern as the new financial year, during which local authorities face continued budget cuts, approaches.” Anne-Marie Irwin - Senior Associate Solicitor
Irwin Mitchell is also representing families of children with special educational needs who have challenged aspects of Hackney Council’s SEND policy and provision. Lawyers now have to make further submissions to the High Court on this case following the Surrey judgment.
A landmark judicial review challenging how the government funds SEND services is to go ahead in the High Court as planned in June.
Families represented by Irwin Mitchell believe that current government grants are leaving councils across the country without enough money to fulfil their legal obligation of providing education for pupils with a range of disabilities and conditions.