Parent Secures Funding Assurances ahead of Council SEND Budget Meeting

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A parent in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames issued a Judicial Review claim through Simpson Millar challenging the lawfulness of a consultation carried out between October to November 2018. The terms of the consultation were set in the context that the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) budget would be in £13 million deficit by March 2019.

The female parent sought legal advice as she responded to the consultation but had a number of concerns regarding the process. Responses to the consultation could only be made online. She was concerned that no attempts were made to distribute it by post to the hundreds of parents in the Richmond-upon-Thames area who could be affected by the outcome of a consultation that would potentially make significant cuts to the SEND budget.

The parent was also concerned because the terms of the consultation lacked transparency or sufficient information regarding the nature of cuts envisaged by the Borough Council and the range of funding options open to the Council.

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The parent instructed Angela Jackman, a Partner in the Public Law team at Simpson Millar, to send a letter before claim on 17 December 2018 and the Council responded negatively on 8 January 2019. A Judicial Review claim was subsequently issued on 25 January requesting the High Court to issue an interim injunction preventing the Council from setting its annual budget on 14 February 2019 until the Court could consider the claim in full.

The Court heard arguments from both parties at a 3-hour hearing for interim relief on 7 February during which the Council confirmed in open Court that it will not be cutting the Central Services Budget or the SEND High Needs block.

The High Court refused the injunction and permission for the case to proceed further but the parent is pleased that as a result of the proceedings, the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames has provided vital assurances ahead of its budget meeting today.

Angela Jackman said, “It was important for the High Court to consider whether an injunction should be granted and this is reflected in the fact that the application for interim relief was not dismissed on the papers, but was considered at a lengthy hearing.

“We fully recognise it is rare for the Court to make an Order of this nature but in responding to the claim, the Council has provided highly significant assurances to our client ahead of setting its SEND budget.”

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