High Court Orders Judicial Review Into Bristols £5m SEND Budget Reduction To Go Ahead


Simpson Millar brings legal action on behalf of two families affected by decision

Two families fighting Bristol City Council’s decision to reduce special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) spending by £5m in the local area have been told their judicial review will be going ahead by the High Court.

Amidst ‘significant concerns’ that the council’s decision is unlawful, the families affected will now have their cases heard at a hearing expected to take place next month.

Represented by law firm Simpson Millar’s public law and education team, those involved say they have already faced difficulties in accessing the necessary services and support needed for their children, and are concerned about the impact of the reductions.

Simpson Millar Partner and education law specialist, Dan Rosenberg, said: “We have significant concerns that the council did not follow the appropriate procedures and legislation in making these reductions, and did not properly consult those likely to be impacted”.

“After all, £5m is a significant amount of money and there is no doubt that many of society’s most vulnerable will be affected”.

SEND budgets fund a myriad of services in Bristol, including providing provision to enable those with additional needs to stay in mainstream education.

Rosenberg continued: “We’re obviously pleased that the High Court has recognised the need for a hearing in order for the decision to be reviewed, but we would urge the council to reconsider with the human impact front of mind”.

“If not, the judicial review will provide the families we represent with an opportunity to have their case heard”.

One of the mothers bringing the case, who has not been named, stated: “I feel that if Bristol Council goes ahead with these cuts even more children with special needs will not have their needs met, and people will have to fight even harder. I have been fighting for three years. I feel that mums with children with special educational needs from working class backgrounds like mine, who don’t really know how the system works, will just get fobbed off, in the way they tried to fob me off previously”.


Note to editors:

(i) There is an anonymity order in respect of the Claimants, to protect the identities of the children involved. The Claimants are not available for interview.
(ii) Funding reductions include (by way of example) the following categories:

a. SEN top-ups for “maintained schools (Bristol)” will reduce by £767,000
b. SEN top-ups for “special schools (Bristol)” will reduce by £1,166,000
c. Funding for Bristol’s pupil referral unit will reduce by £150,000

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