Growing pressures on special educational needs and disability services has forced Wokingham Borough Council to appeal for millions of pounds of emergency funding, documents have revealed.

The council was recently given a £6.3 million bailout grant as part of the government’s Safety Valve programme. This is a fund specifically designed to tackle council overspending on special educational needs and disabilities – known as SEND – services.

Now, recently-published documents reveal that the council was granted the funding as it risked overspending its budget due to increased demand.

A report submitted to the council’s audit committee says: “The council faces an increase in demand and complexity of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“This is creating pressure on the entire SEND system and resulting in an overspend in the budget.”

It adds: “The Council is working with the Department of Education through the Safety Valve programme to address this risk.”

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Wokingham Borough Council said the new money would be spent on SEND facilities in mainstream schools so that children won’t have to travel long distances for special schools.

The audit report also notes that the Local Government Ombudsman upheld four complaints against the council relating to children with special educational needs and disabilities.

One complaint involved a child being refused a place at a mainstream school, with the council failing to find them a place elsewhere before the start of the term. The child was eventually admitted to the mainstream school after their parents arranged and paid for needs assessments themselves.

The council’s audit committee is set to discuss the report this Wednesday, June 7.