SEND

Councils’ SEND admin and transport costs balloon

Town halls expect to spend £1.2bn bussing pupils to school this year, and £300m on administration for SEND pupils

Town halls expect to spend £1.2bn bussing pupils to school this year, and £300m on administration for SEND pupils

The cost of administrating support for pupils with SEND and transporting them to and from school has soared this year as rising fuel bills and the cost-of-living crisis cause pressure across the public sector.

Data on planned local authority and school expenditure for the 2023-24 financial year show transport costs were expected to rise by as much as 44 per cent.

Meanwhile SEND administration, assessment, coordination and monitoring costs shot up by 21 per cent to almost £300 million.

These costs are met by councils, and come on top of high needs funding that goes to schools, which has also ballooned in recent years in the face of rising demand.

Councils expected to spend £1.2 billion bussing school-aged pupils with SEND to and from school up 23 per cent on last year, while transport for 16 to 18-year-olds will rise 20 per cent to £130 million.

Transporting 19 to 25-year-olds to college was expected to increase by 44 per cent.

The government pointed to rising numbers of education, health and care plans, adding that rises in fuel prices and the cost of living “may be a contributing factor”.

The Local Government Association said rising SEND pressures were posing “significant challenges”.

While SEND reforms will help, they said government plugging high needs deficits and improving mainstream school inclusion would be “crucial to their success”.

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