In addition to the surge in complaints, 9 out of 10 were upheld, according to the report ‘Not going to plan‘.
Ombudsman Michael King described the situation as ‘exceptional and unprecedented’, and that it ‘suggests a system in crisis’.
The complaints included long periods of delay, missed reviews, poor communication, and a lack oversight. The Ombudsman warned that this means some of our most vulnerable children are not getting the support they need, with a significant impact on their attainment.
However, councils have said they do not have enough resources to cope with the pressures. The Local Government Association (LGA) pointed to an 11% increase in Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) last year alone.
The LGA has previously highlighted underfunding in SEND provision, highlighting a funding gap of £806 million for 2019/20. In the recent funding announcements the Government pledged an extra £700 million for pupils with complex needs in 2020-21, however, this does not resolve the imminent funding gap that councils and schools face.
The situation has a significant impact for the North East, which alongside facing persistent lack of funding, has a higher proportion of students with EHCPs than the rest of the country.