Surrey SEN funds; going, going......gone!

by Alicia Hollow

Surrey SEN funds; going, going......gone!

by Alicia Hollow
Alicia Hollow
Case owner
My name is Alicia and this is my son, Kian, who is Autistic. Like many children with special educational needs he needs extra support to be able to learn & our LA, Surrey, is cutting SEN funding.
Funded
on 07th March 2018
£2,850
pledged of £3,500 stretch target from 116 pledges
Alicia Hollow
Case owner
My name is Alicia and this is my son, Kian, who is Autistic. Like many children with special educational needs he needs extra support to be able to learn & our LA, Surrey, is cutting SEN funding.

Latest: Aug. 20, 2018

An open letter to Dave Hill, new Director of Children's Services at Surrey

Dear Mr Hill,

We are delighted that you have chosen to join Surrey and are now the Director of Children’s Services for Surrey County Council.  Your extensive experience in Norfolk, Birmin...

Read more

Thank you for your interest in our CrowdJustice page. If you are a parent/carer of a child or young person in Surrey who will be affected by these cuts, and would like to provide your input or find out more, please contact me at SurreySENbudgetcuts@gmail.com

Thank you for your continued support.

____

Please help us fight to REVERSE the decision by Surrey County Council to slash vital services for our children and young people with special needs.

What is our case about?

Surrey are planning to cut over £20 million from its SEND services budget despite it still needing to make further remedial improvements after a disastrous Ofsted/CQC inspection. These cuts are going to seriously impede any efforts by Surrey to meet its legal obligations under the Children and Families Act and will mean that jobs are lost and provision will be slashed. The cuts include amongst other things:

  1. Special School funding - £2.3 million
  2. SEND Home to School Transport - SEND £1.499 million
  3. Post-16 SEND Provision - £1 million
  4. SEND Support to Early Years Provision - £1 million
  5. Cullum Centres - £0.439 million
  6. Inclusion in Mainstream - £0.338 million
  7. Traded model for SEN Support Services - £1.1 million

Full details here: 

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/128222/MTFP-2017-20-Section-1-Detailed-Budget-and-Fin-Regs.pdf#page=34

The total budget cuts of more than £20 million will severely impact the lives of at least 7,700 children who have special educational needs in the county.  These are some of the most vulnerable children in the county.

A quote from a Surrey parent:

"Early support for my son Kyffin, who has a serious neuromuscular condition, has been invaluable in him making huge progress. He has benefited from 1:1 support at a specialist nursery, helping him develop social skills, confidence, and other pre-school skills that mean he will be able to go to a mainstream school with support. I want to make sure this is available to other disabled children in Surrey. Early help is a huge factor in kids achieving their potential and setting them on a path to independence".

The number of children and young people in Surrey who have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan has risen by 2,342 to 7,700 since 2010 so cuts go against the clear need for funding.

Why do we need this money and what will we use it for?

We need to raise the money to enable our lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, to begin a Judicial Review claim against Surrey’s decision. We are confident that the rest of the necessary funding can be met through Legal Aid.

Our aim is to ensure the Council complies with its legal duties in making such a decision and that the final decision itself is lawful. 

Specifically, the following will be investigated: 

  • whether the decision is compliant with the Public Sector Equality Duty (i.e the duty of the Council to have due regard to the need to, for example, eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity) 
  • whether the decision gives rise to a breach in the human rights of its children and young people with special needs.  
  • whether the decision or consequences flowing from it have been properly consulted upon 
  • whether the Council considered all of the relevant information when taking the decision.

As parents and carers, we do not believe that Surrey County Council have fulfilled their statutory duties to ensure that the public were effectively consulted nor that this consultation was taken into account when making this decision.  

Please help us to get these cuts reversed. 

When the right support is in place for our children, they have so much potential. Without the right funding, children and young people across Surrey will be deprived of the chance to achieve that potential.


 

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Update 8

Alicia Hollow

Aug. 20, 2018

An open letter to Dave Hill, new Director of Children's Services at Surrey

Dear Mr Hill,

We are delighted that you have chosen to join Surrey and are now the Director of Children’s Services for Surrey County Council.  Your extensive experience in Norfolk, Birmingham and Essex will be invaluable in tackling the crisis in SEN support in Surrey.  As parents of children with Special Needs, we are passionate about education not just for our special children but all children independent of background, learning needs or their parents’ ability or resilience to fight for them.  You mentioned “Family Resilience” in your open letter; this is something as parents and carers we have already had to develop both because of the lack of support from Surrey County Council but also in many instances despite the support.

Surrey County Council has continually let parents of children and young people with Special Needs down.  In your open letter, you stated that you would be kicking off a “process of deep review and develop a new approach” and that you “must do better for our children, young people and their families”. With this in mind, we suggest you start by urgently addressing the issue of the £21m budget cut to SEN funding for 2018-2019 which you haven’t mentioned at all in this letter to families.

Despite having been put on notice by Ofsted and CQC for “significant areas of weakness” when Surrey’s SEND provision was inspected in late 2016, the council have doggedly pursued their commitment to these massive budget cuts. With the support of many other families in Surrey, we are taking the council to judicial review at the High Court in October over this decision. Your laudable vision of collaborating in partnership with families is hard to reconcile with the high-handed way Surrey decided to make these huge cuts, without consulting the people who will be affected: families such as ours.

We are realistic that Surrey and many other local authorities are facing financial pressures, with a devastating loss of funds from central government since 2010 yet Surrey did not join with 39 other authorities in a recent letter to Damian Hinds calling for a fair and sustainable funding system for SEND from the government.

We feel sure that you have seen the success, a few weeks ago, of families in Bristol, who won their Judicial Review of the decision to cut £5m from their SEN budgets. The judge, in that case, said “there is no evidence… that members of the council had any regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, still less ‘actively promote; children’s welfare, when making the decision to proceed with the proposed savings”.  If you truly wish to put “children and their families in the absolute centre” of Surrey’s plans, then re-considering the approach to setting the budgets that provide essential support would be a good place to start.

We will happily meet with you and discuss our experiences of working with Surrey as parents of special needs children and young people, but in the meantime, we are going to be bold and suggest you do the following;

Early intervention is key for Surrey and will, in the long run, unlock costs.  This early intervention will involve training and putting a properly funded support plan in early to help our special young people maximise their potential and reduce the number of costly interventions and placements required further down the line.

Build trust, collaboration and partnership as these are alien phrases to most parents who have children with SEND and Surrey Local Authority.

Invest in mental health support and social care support. There is limited mental health support involving very long waits and a lack of social care support for young people and families in Surrey. Children and Young People are falling in the cracks. It is very obvious that there are serious problems when Surrey call a “temporary pause” to key services at a time when the demand is increasing on a daily basis.

Train key professionals in SEN and the Law surrounding SEN support.  Many EHCPs in Surrey are illegal and, as a consequence, many of our young people are getting inadequate support and their long-term outcomes more likely to be limited.

Engage with parents properly, listen to them and act on their feedback. We look forward to meeting with you Mr Hill!

It’s clear from both your long-term background in Social care and your CBE for services to Children’s Social Care that you are passionate about working with children, young people and vulnerable adults to get optimum outcomes and so we look forward to meeting you in person and supporting this vision.

Kind regards

The Surrey Parents Judicial Review Team

Update 7

Alicia Hollow

June 1, 2018

We've got our court dates!

We have now been told that our case will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd October 2018. We will all be attending and would welcome anyone who can come to attend too and show the strength of feeling about these cuts.

The address is: The Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/courts/royal-courts-of-justice

The closest tube stations nearby are Temple (Circle/District Lines), Chancery Lane (Central Line) or Holborn (Central Line/Piccadilly Lines).

Many thanks for your continued support.

Team Surrey

@SurreySENCuts (Twitter)


Update 6

Alicia Hollow

May 23, 2018

Judicial Review - GRANTED!

After weeks of silence from us and grounds going back and forth, we can finally confirm that permission has been granted for the Judicial Review to go to court. We don't have a date yet, but it will be either in the last two weeks of July or at the latest by the end of October 2018 (courts are closed in August/September). 

It's fantastic news. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Update 5

Alicia Hollow

April 3, 2018

Raising awareness

We've been really busy over the last few days raising awareness of the SEN Cuts. Please find some links to recent articles that cover the cuts.

Get Surrey articles

https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/we-need-fight-them-parents-14447512

https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/parents-secure-legal-aid-funding-14471152

Sky News articles

https://news.sky.com/story/time-to-stand-up-for-special-needs-funding-11308961

https://news.sky.com/story/my-legal-battle-to-protect-autistic-sons-education-11308131

We even made it on to Sky News throughout the day on Friday 30th March, 2018, as they reported extensively on the SEN Cuts across the UK. 

Many thanks for your continued support.

Team Surrey 

Follow us on Twitter @SurreySENCuts 

or on Facebook Reverse Surrey SEN cuts

Update 4

Alicia Hollow

March 27, 2018

Sarah and Kyffin raising awareness about the Surrey Cuts

Sarah from Team Surrey talks about the cuts and her concerns.

https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/we-need-fight-them-parents-14447512


Update 3

Alicia Hollow

March 23, 2018

LAA funding secured

Thanks to your very generous donations we have been able to get this campaign up and running. This is a very complicated multi-faceted case because of the nature of the cuts and our solicitors have done lots of hard work, going through all the information available to them, which resulted in a Pre-action letter being sent to Surrey last week.

Surrey's response has given important further information about the Council’s decision making process. The Council’s gross revenue expenditure budget has been set for 2018/19, but the Council hasn’t yet approved the particular savings in specific areas. Although some savings will come from decisions taken in previous financial years, they haven’t yet identified how they will make over £10 million of the savings that they are required to make.

Specific savings will be considered “at an appropriate time”, including at a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on 27 March 2018, when the Council’s medium term financial plan will be considered. We need to focus on the savings the Council intends to make, in particular, on the decision to be taken on 27 March.

Surrey tried to deter us from pursuing this legal challenge any further but we are going to stand our ground and fight for all disabled kids in Surrey.  

They tried to argue that children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) are protected but, as parents, we know from bitter experience, with Surrey, that this isn't necessarily true. Support is only ever protected until the next annual review of an EHCP and Surrey have previous form of removing support without any evidence to support doing so.  

But what about the thousands of children in Surrey with special needs without EHCPs? And then there are those with EHCPs full of meaningless wording like “access to” and “benefit from” that allow the LA to remove provision at will. Is it ok to cut the support they receive? We don't think so! "

The Legal Aid Agency has just agreed that our solicitors can continue working under the legal aid certificate on the case, so we are not asking for any more donations at this stage, should that change we will let you know.  We are in a very good position and the solicitors are working hard to be ready to challenge the Council’s further decisions and we are likely to have good prospects of success.

None of this would have been possible without your support, thank you.

Follow us on Twitter @SurreySENCuts

Follow us on Facebook Reverse Surrey SEN Cuts

Update 2

Alicia Hollow

March 15, 2018

Update 1

Alicia Hollow

March 7, 2018

Mission accomplished

Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you so much for supporting our CrowdJustice campaign. We met the target in unbelievably quick time! We now hand over to the team at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who can now start work and set the legal wheels in motion.

We are overwhelmed at the level of support from everyone who helped get the campaign live, and also from those who have been sharing, tweeting and spreading the word. And – crucially, to those donating.

We will continue to post updates whenever we have news.

 And a big thank you from all of the SEN children who live in Surrey.

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