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Northamptonshire cuts SEN funding to just 2p an hour

By Rachel Lawler
child and adult reading
Northamptonshire county council has approved plans to reduce its early years budget as part of a wider cost-cutting plan.
The local authority has approved plans to cut a total of £1.8 million from its early years budget.
Northamptonshire says it has previously overspent in this area, including a £0.2 million overspend on its inclusion fund.
Additional funding
Early years providers in Northamptonshire are paid a base-rate of £3.66 an hour for children aged three- and four-years-old and £5.10 an hour for two-year-olds. On top of this, many receive a quality supplement, subsidies for children living in deprived areas and funding for children with special educational needs.
After the budget cuts approved last week, all early years settings will see their Special Education Needs (SEN) budget cut from 14p an hour to 2p an hour from April 2019 onwards.
The local authority also plans to cut £1 million from its quality supplement funding and £0.1 million in deprivation funding, dropping from 32p an hour for eligible children down to 25p an hour.
Provider pressure
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “This announcement will be disastrous for some of the most vulnerable children in Northamptonshire. And it will heap even more pressure on providers who were already struggling to stay afloat at a time of frozen funding rates and rising costs.
“The local authority’s financial struggles are well documented but there’s no doubt ministers must share the blame here because it is their continued refusal to increase funding has made every last penny providers receive from local authorities absolutely essential.
Social mobility
“This situation shows how far government action has moved away from its rhetoric on social mobility. Government cannot claim on the one hand it wants to narrow the attainment gap while, on the other, remain a bystander while providers in areas of deprivation close their doors, and local authority SEND budgets reduce to a handful of pennies per child. 
“We will only see more local authorities forced to take such decisions, and this leaves the government with a simple choice: either they act now to increase early years funding or continue to do nothing and effectively wipe their hands of the country’s youngest and most vulnerable children.”
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