A children’s services boss has spoken of her outrage as campaigners urged a council which has launched “efficiencies” to services for the most vulnerable youngsters to show more humanity.
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for children’s services Councillor Janet Sanderson a full meeting of the authority that youngsters with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) had been treated with compassion by the council.
Kerry Fox, of Save SEND Services North Yorkshire, told the meeting she was presenting “a plea to humanity” following decisions such as introducing school transport charges for SEND pupils.
She said: “Vengeance is not our goal, nor do we seek a just retribution. We ask this council to affirm our children’s right to the support and access to education, social care and health from the local authority so they may be equal with their peers regardless of their disabilities.
“We plead that the council do not sell our children to the lowest tender, not to make our children’s lives and support a matter of commercial interest.”
Andrea Ellwood, of campaign group SEND Crisis, told members concerns had surfaced that the authority would cut services further and make them increasingly commercial.
She said concerns centred on the loss of “highly skilled professionals who have for so many years worked with our children and families in supporting roles in the best interests of children.”
She asked for the council to commit to assessing the services being provided for disabled children against its statutory duties.
Cllr Sanderson replied the council acted with compassion towards SEND children and its services had been recognised as being exemplary and took “personal outrage” at the insinuation children were being sold to the lowest tender.
She said the council’s efforts to lobby the Government for extra funding were having “a positive impact”, and it would continue to take every opportunity to voice its views.
Cllr Sanderson said: “We do take our responsibilities very seriously with regard to meeting the assessed needs of children with SEND.
“We have had to make efficiencies, but we have worked hard to ensure services remain of high quality whilst providing value for money.
“We have a legal duty to set a balanced budget and so I do hope you will understand we cannot commit to saying that we will not consider further savings, but we will always continue to consult appropriately about savings and we will always seek to protect frontline services.”
She added she could not commit to launching an assessment of services when there was no evidence of a requirement or necessity.