October 2019

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has today published a second focus report on Education, Health and Care plans. IPSEA is disappointed, but sadly not surprised, by the issues highlighted in the report which reflect the deepening national crisis in SEND provision. 

Two years on from its previous focus report on this topic, the LGSCO’s findings suggest that the situation for children and young people with SEND is getting worse rather than better as the reforms introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 become more deeply embedded.

The key failings identified in the report include local authorities applying a higher threshold for assessing children’s needs than the law provides, significant delays in the process for securing, reviewing and amending EHC plans in breach of statutory timescales, poor transition planning and a lack of joined-up working across education, health and social care. These findings chime with what we at IPSEA see and hear about on a daily basis from the families who access our advice and support services.

Ali Fiddy, IPSEA’s Chief Executive, said:

An uphold rate that far exceeds that in other areas the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over paints a worrying picture of the challenges faced by families. This is symptomatic of a failure by local authorities to comply with the law at even the most basic level. It is of grave concern that so many of the complaints made to the LGSCO are being upheld, as it begs the question how many other children, young people and their families are being let down but are unwilling or unable to pursue a complaint.”

IPSEA welcomes the LGSCO’s suggested questions for councillors to ask about SEND provision in their local authority. In particular, we endorse the need for local authority officers to be trained on the SEND legal framework.