Mum threatens legal action over cuts to Portsmouth’s special education provision

Portsmouth City Council Civic Offices.
Portsmouth City Council Civic Offices.
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A MOTHER  is threatening to take legal action over what she feels are unlawful cuts to the city’s Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision. 

The threat of legal action against Portsmouth Local Authority comes after The News reported nearly £405,000 was to be cut from the current SEND budget to balance the previous year’s overspend.

The parent is challenging the legality of the council’s new policy of splitting SEND funding into different bands which she feels does not always allow spending to meet the needs of each individual child.

The single parent, who has asked not to be named due to an ongoing security issue, has two children who come under the jurisdiction of the authority. 

She said: ‘My eldest child has been diagnosed with asperger’s, ADHD and a number of other conditions whilst my youngest child is thought to have an autistic spectrum disorder. I feel these cuts are unlawful as funding needs to be based on a child’s needs. I have taken advice from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and they have said I have possible grounds for legal action.’

An additional area of dispute concerns the Individual Education Health Care plan put in place for her son who is currently attending a residential specialist facility to cater for his needs. Whilst accepting current financial constraints are making SEND provision more difficult she feels the council has a legal obligation to meet the needs on the care plan.  

The mother’s claim is disputed by Portsmouth’s director of children, families and education, Alison Jeffrey, who said: ‘We fulfil our obligations as laid out in these plans and we'll continue to do so.’

A particular concern is the review of the council’s out-of- city provision placements.

The mum added: ‘Where my child is currently placed their specialist needs are being met. If all these children have to return to the city with all these cuts the council doesn’t have the capacity to meet their needs.’

Portsmouth’s cabinet member for education, Suzy Horton, said: ‘All decisions have been made in conjunction with parental groups such as Portsmouth Parent Voice.’

SEND Family Action Group says special-needs cuts made by Bristol Council have already been ruled unlawful and judgement is awaited on a challege in Surrey.