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City council faces judicial review over £5m SEND funding reduction

Bristol City Council has become the latest local authority to face a judicial review challenge over a decision to cut funding for special educational needs and disabilities.

Law firm Simpson Millar, which is acting for the two claimant families, said a hearing in the HIgh Court is expected to take place next month.

Dan Rosenberg, a partner and education law specialist at the firm, said: “We have significant concerns that the council did not follow the appropriate procedures and legislation in making these reductions, and did not properly consult those likely to be impacted.

“After all, £5m is a significant amount of money and there is no doubt that many of society’s most vulnerable will be affected.”

Rosenberg added: “We’re obviously pleased that the High Court has recognised the need for a hearing in order for the decision to be reviewed, but we would urge the council to reconsider with the human impact front of mind. If not, the judicial review will provide the families we represent with an opportunity to have their case heard”.

Simpson Millar said that the funding reductions included the following categories: SEN top-ups for “maintained schools (Bristol)” will reduce by £767,000; SEN top-ups for “special schools (Bristol)” will reduce by £1,166,000; and funding for Bristol’s pupil referral unit will reduce by £150,000.

A spokesman for Bristol City Council said: “The court has yet to decide whether to give permission for a judicial review. This matter and the grounds for a claim will be considered by the High Court in the coming weeks.”

In the last three months both Surrey County Council and the London Borough of Hackney have been hit with legal actions over proposed cuts to SEN funding.

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