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Families apply for judicial review challenge to SEN policy of council

Law firm Irwin Mitchell has applied to take the London Borough of Hackney to judicial review on behalf of families granted legal aid to challenge its special educational needs policy.

The firm argues that the council’s banded system for funding such SEN support is inadequate and that a decision to cut the amount it spends on each child with special educational needs in its area and changes to the format of education, health and care (EHC) plans used to assess support requirements are also unlawful.

Associate solicitor Anne-Marie Irwin said: “We have come to the conclusion that the council’s policy on funding support is unlawful as it fails to fulfil the absolute requirement to ensure each child gets the help that they require.

“In addition, the amount of funding available has been reduced by an arbitrary figure which has nothing to do with children or young people’s needs.”

She said changes to EHC plans meant decisions on provision “can be made without having a child’s needs properly in mind”.

The firm will argue that the 5% cut in spending was imposed without consultation with the affected families, while the system used offered no flexibility to ensure sufficient funding was provided for each child.

Hackney has been contacted for comment.

Mark Smulian

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