Complaining when a local authority does not send a draft or final Education, Health and Care Plan on time: Model letter 10

What are the deadlines for the local authority to send out a draft and a final Education, Health and Care plan?

A local authority (“LA”) is required to finalise the Education, Health and Care (“EHC”) plan as soon as practicable but in any event within 20 weeks of the initial request for assessment.

There is no deadline in the law for when they must send out the draft EHC plan, but after they send out the draft they are obliged to give the parent or young person time to make representations about the content of the EHC plan, and then to consult with any school or college the parent or young person wishes to be named in the EHC plan. In order to do both of these things and then finalise the EHC plan within the 20 week time limit, they should send out the draft plan within 14 weeks of the request for assessment.

Are there exceptions to the time limit?

There are some circumstances in which an LA may not be required to comply with the 20 week time limit if it would be impractical for it to do so. These are where:

(a) the LA requested advice as part of the EHC needs assessment from the nursery, school or college attended by the child or young person during a time when it was closed for a period of longer than 4 weeks (i.e. in the summer holidays), or in the week immediately before such a closure, and this delayed the process;

(b) exceptional personal circumstances affect the child or the child’s parent, or the young person, during that time period; or

(d) the child or the child’s parent, or the young person, were absent from the LA’s area for a continuous period of not less than 4 weeks during that time period.

If one of the exceptions applies, the local authority will only be able to rely on it if it can show that sending the draft or final EHC plan on time would be impractical because of the exception. The LA is still required to send out the EHC plan as soon as practicable

When should I complain?

You should complain as soon as the 14 week (for a draft plan) or 20 week (for a final plan) time limit has expired.

It is very important for the LA to send a draft EHC plan before they finalise the plan, so that the parent or young person has a chance to comment on the contents of the plan. See our page on draft EHC plans for more information.

Who should I write to?

You should write to the most senior person at the LA, usually called the Director of Children’s Services. You can find information and contact details for this person by clicking here.

Remember to keep a copy of any letter you send. If you don’t get a reply after five working days, or if you need further advice, you can book an appointment to speak with us.