On 17th October 2019 Lord Watson of Invergowrie asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they will take further to the recent survey of local authorities in England which found that since 2014 approximately £400 million has been diverted from mainstream education budgets in order to pay for special needs education.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, several heads in Coventry and Warwickshire have told me about the heavy demands on their energies and budgets from, to quote one primary head, children who are not on the SEN register but face horrific circumstances at home and so need extra help; for example, families who are homeless through domestic violence and children whose mental health is so poor—these are nine year-olds—that they threaten suicide. Does the Minister recognise the pressures on schools in mainstream education from children who do not meet the thresholds of special needs but who nevertheless have severe needs and require acute support? Is he confident that there is sufficient funding for them?
Lord Agnew of Oulton: The right reverend Prelate is correct that there seems to be an increasing trend of mental health needs in young people, and I urge all noble Lords who are concerned with this area to look at why this is happening. It is certainly happening, but there is not enough discussion around why it is happening. To restate our commitment, we have increased high needs funding from £5 billion a year in 2013 to £6.3 billion this year and over £7 billion next year. As I mentioned in an earlier answer, we have increased core school budgets by 5%, which will indeed help with the lower levels of SEN not specifically addressed in the high needs budget.