Deaf children's education support 'left at breaking point' after council cuts

'We are seeing the vital support system they rely on torn apart'

Deaf children need specialist help, says the charity
Deaf children need specialist help, says the charity

Millions of pounds of support for deaf children are being lost, leaving services at breaking point, a charity has warned.

One in three councils is making cuts, according to the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS), which accused the government of "woeful complacency".

Town hall chiefs said that with demand rising at an unprecedented rate, ministers must find extra funding, and warned that if cash is not found, councils may not be able to meet their legal duty to such youngsters.

However, children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said the budget for pupils with special educational needs this year was the highest on record.

Data obtained by the deaf children’s society through Freedom of Information requests shows that of the 122 local authorities in England that provided figures, 45 (more than one in three) are cutting specialist education support for deaf and hearing-impaired children this financial year.

Across these 45 areas, £4m is being cut, the charity calculates, with each council losing around 10 per cent from these services on average.

The figures were released at the start of Deaf Awareness Week.

​NDCS chief executive Susan Daniels said the government urgently needed to tackle the funding “crisis”. "By not acting, this government is putting the education of too many deaf children at risk, and letting their futures hang in the balance."

She went on: "Despite councils having a legal duty to support deaf children, we are seeing the vital support system that they rely on for their education torn apart.

"Deaf children are falling even further behind at school, and the government's response is nothing short of woeful complacency."

Mr Zahawi said: "The high-needs budget for pupils with special educational needs is £6bn this year - the highest on record, and core school funding will rise to a record £43.5bn by 2020," he said.

"On top of this, last week we announced new contracts worth more than £25m to help children with special educational needs and disabilities - including those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment - have access to excellent support."

Richard Watts, of the Local Government Association's children and young people board, said: "We have made clear for some time now that there must be additional and ongoing funding from the government to enable us to support high-needs children and their families, otherwise councils may not be able to meet their statutory duties and these children could miss out on a mainstream education.

"This is why we are calling for an urgent review of funding to meet the unprecedented rise in demand for support."

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