As you may recall, in 2017 the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families announced a £215m capital grant for local authorities to invest in, and improve, the quality and range of provision for children and young people with Special Education Needs (SEN) and Disabilities aged 0 to 25.
These allocations (at that point totalling £541,376 for Cheshire West and Chester) were originally announced in March 2017. On 29 May 2018, ministers announced £50 million additional grant funding and on 16 December 2018, a further £100 million. This took the total investment to Cheshire West and Chester to £180,459 of funding for 2018/19, £558,163 for 2019/20 and £180,459 for 2020/21 – a total of £919,081 - from this capital fund.
We can invest this funding to help children and young people with education, health and care plans to get a high quality education. It can be used in mainstream schools, including academies, free schools, special units, special schools, early year’s settings, further education colleges or other provision for children and young people aged from 0-25.
The Council was asked to consult with parent and carers, schools, settings and others on how this funding allocation should be used and we carried out two consultations with pupils, parents/carers, schools and settings between November 2017 and March 2018.
The funding cannot be spent on Higher Education, provision for those aged 25 and over, anything that would be classed as revenue expenditure (like furniture, whiteboards. training or staff costs), equipment for individuals or any "reasonable adjustment" accessibility works (such as ramps or door widening; a hoist in a toilet would be considered to be a ‘reasonable adjustment’ but a hoist to enable access to a hydro-therapy pool might be eligible) or maintenance work (such as window or boiler replacement).
As an outcome of the consultations a number of projects have been formulated for the allocation of the 2018/19 funds.
The 2019/20 and 2020/21 allocations have been reserved to await the outcome of the High needs strategic review and for schemes that meet the priorities this has identified.
We will consult on the capital consequences of the High Needs review once they emerge. The co-production exercise is anticipated to be approved by Cabinet in November 2019. Any proposals that require consideration before this timeframe will be consulted on over the coming months.
Details of this can be found in the spending plan.