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County faces legal action over £20m cut to services for disabled children

A group of families has threatened Surrey County Council with a judicial review challenge over its decision to cut its schools and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) budgets by £20m.

The money funds services such as school transport and provisions for children with special educational needs to stay in mainstream schools.

Claimant law firm Irwin Mitchell has written to the local authority, calling on it to overturn what it claimed was an ‘unlawful’ decision.

Alex Rook, a partner at the firm, said: “The proposed cuts would impact on some of society’s most vulnerable people, with the county council itself recognising that there are now 7,700 children needing education, health and care plans in Surrey, an increase of 44% over the last eight years.

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“Whilst we appreciate the very severe budget pressures local authorities face, councils still have a duty to ensure spending decisions affecting frontline services are lawful.”

He added: “It is our view that the county council’s proposals are unlawful, including as a result of the failure to undertake any kind of consultation on its 2018/19 budget cuts. It is manifestly unfair for the council to set its budget without any consultation with those who will be affected by the significant spending cuts.

“We call on the county council to reconsider its decision and engage with those who will be severely affected by this decision.”

Irwin Mitchell have instructed Stephen Broach from Monckton Chambers to advise on the case.

A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We are currently considering our response, but as ever our main focus is making sure children get the support they need."

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