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High Court sets June date for judicial review hearing over SEND funding policy

A High Court judge has granted three families permission to bring a judicial review challenge over the Government’s special education needs (“SEND”) funding policy.

The claimants from North Yorkshire, Birmingham and East Sussex argue that councils across the country are being left without enough money to fulfil their legal obligation of providing education for pupils with a range of disabilities and conditions.

The case will be heard in the High Court on 26 and 27 June.

The granting of permission comes at a time when several local authorities are also facing legal challenges to their cuts to SEND budgets. Hearings have been held into cuts proposed by Surrey and Hackney Councils, with judgments expected shortly.

The families, who have been granted legal aid, have formed a group called SEND Action and are calling on ministers to increase the funding provided to councils.

Anne-Marie Irwin, Senior Associate Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: “How special education needs services are funded is an issue which is continuing to snowball. This is especially the case at a time when many local authorities are setting their budgets for the next financial year in the face of continued budget cuts.

“We continue to hear very concerning accounts from families who say thousands of children in towns and cities across the country are not receiving the education they deserve because of government policy.”

Irwin added: “The families feel that there have been left with no choice but to bring this action and are pleased that the High Court recognises that SEND funding is an issue which needs to be looked at urgently in detail.

“While we are prepared to put forward strong legal arguments in court on behalf of the families, we would rather the government re-examine its position and come up with a solution which will benefit families nationally."

Barristers Jenni Richards QC of 39 Essex Chambers and Stephen Broach and Ciar McAndrew of Monckton Chambers have been instructed to advise on the case.

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