September 2023

It has emerged that the Department for Education has a target to reduce by 20% the number of children and young people who are given an education, health and care (EHC) plan. 

The 20% target is part of a £19.5 million contract between the Department for Education and a consultancy firm called Newton Europe signed in June 2022. Consultants are working with 55 local authorities through the “Delivering Better Value” programme to find ways of reducing the amount they spend on support for children and young people with SEND. 

Politicians and civil servants have repeatedly denied that the Government’s intention is to reduce the number of EHC plans, or that they had any target figure in mind. The former Children’s Minister, Claire Coutinho MP, told the House of Commons Education Select Committee in May 2023 that: “[it] is not about targeting a particular reduction; it is just about improving the system”. 

IPSEA’s policy manager, Catriona Moore, said: 

"It’s essential that we get some transparency from the Department for Education about how this happened. We would also like to understand what the 20% target is based on: what evidence is there that children and young people have EHC plans that they don’t need? If there is no evidence that EHC plans are being issued unnecessarily, then the target must be driven by a desire to reduce spending above all else."

We are writing to the new Children's Minister about the SEND Change programme and what the Government's intentions are.

The law on support for children and young people with SEND remains unchanged. Children and young people have a legal right to special educational provision that meets their needs. Read more about children’s rights and entitlements.