Local councils are erroneously withholding help from special needs children
Parents of disabled children get used to hearing cliches. When in March this year the government introduced measures to help those with special needs, it promised to “unlock their potential” and put “families at the heart of the process”. For many such families their recent experience of government help has been rather different. The Times reports today that local councils have been blocking special needs children from the basic assistance to which they are entitled, and that as a result children with autism, Down’s syndrome, or hearing problems have been left without places at special schools, or extra support in mainstream ones.
In the past four years councils have spent about £100 million fighting parents who seek support for their disabled children, and have lost nine out of ten cases. Families, meanwhile, have been forced to remortgage their houses and run up credit card debt to pay legal fees in the battle for their children’s education. Some councils are alleged to have lied to parents about their rights: telling them, for example, that a child needs to be lagging two years behind their peers in academic terms to qualify for support. Others use a law firm which was forced in 2016 to apologise for tweets mocking the parents of the disabled.
Councils blow £100m in special needs battle
Councils have spent about £100 million fighting parents seeking support for their disabled children at tribunals, yet the authorities lost nine in ten appeals.
The amount covers four years in which local authorities tried to reject appeals brought by families unhappy at the lack of help they were getting for children with special needs.
Families have remortgaged their houses and run up tens of thousands of pounds in debt to secure educational support for their children.
Some local authorities have used a controversial law firm to fight their case and others have allegedly lied to parents about their entitlement.
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