Torbay’s MP, Kevin Foster, has welcomed today’s (Thursday 16th March 2023) news £12.9m of ringfenced government funding has been allocated to Torbay Council to help reduce the deficit in its Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).
Like many other local areas across England, the deficit was linked to the growth in demand for children with special educational needs. Torbay Council has now agreed a management plan with the Department for Education (DfE) to mitigate the increasing financial pressures.
In February last year, the Government invited Torbay council, along with several other councils, to take part in the Safety Valve Intervention Programme. Today the Department for Education published 20 new Safety Valve agreements, including one with Torbay Council.
This government programme aims to agree a package of reform to bring the DSG deficit under control by reducing the spend on the high needs budget. This is the element of the grant used to directly support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and has experienced pressures.
Since then, Torbay Council has been working closely with the Government and has agreed a deliverable and proportionate management plan to bring the budget back in line without affecting its financial reserves and still meet the needs of local children and young people.
The plan is based on tackling the variety of issues at the heart of the matter. This includes offering and enhancing the early intervention offer and support for children with SEND.
Meeting need much earlier will reduce the need for costly Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP), offering support families and their children need, preventing issues from escalating.
This will be supported by the roll out of family hubs, which last month the Government confirmed Torbay would be a trailblazer for.
As part of today’s agreement, the Government has committed to supporting Torbay Council by agreeing £12.9m of ringfenced funding over the next five years. This will enable the council to balance the budget by the end of 2025-26.
The action plan includes several improvements to SEND provision, including:
- Offering and enhancing early intervention and support for children with SEND, thereby reducing the need for Educational Health Care Plans.
- Rolling out the new Family Hubs across Torbay.
- Maintaining existing special school numbers through increasing parental confidence and provision within mainstream settings.
- Creating a culture of change in SEND services.
- Building confidence among parents and carers.
- Setting up a Transitions Panel for the over 16s to include targeted employment and education support.
Kevin Foster MP said: “This additional funding is very welcome news and will ensure the needs of local children are met, the services which support them are properly resourced and help Torbay Council put its financial position on a more secure basis.”