THE leader of Northumberland County Council has said he will make the case to Government for more funding for children in the county with additional needs.

The council’s high needs funding, which is used to educate children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), faces an overspend of £4 million in the coming financial year.

The number of children with SEND has risen significantly in recent years, with the number of children requiring an education and healthcare plan (EHCP) going from 1,679 in 2017 to 3,369 in 2023 – an increase of 100.6 per cent in just six years.

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At Wednesday’s meeting (March 20) of the county council, Labour opposition members called on Conservative leader Glen Sanderson to put pressure on central Government. Cllr Julie Foster said the funding had not kept up with demand.

She said: “We get a Government grant for the high needs block and I understand we are looking at overspending this year, and that is because the demand has increased and funding has not been in line with that. These children are our future and just because they have special educational needs or a disability doesn’t mean they can’t as they get older.

“Many go on to achieve some fantastic things. It only happens when they have the right support.

“These children and young people deserve our support. Will the council ask the Government to increase the grant for the high needs block so we can meet the needs of our children?”

Fellow Labour councillor Lynne Grimshaw added: “SEND is vitally important. They need support every which way they can.

“Please support it, please get more money into it. There are some very highly intelligent children in there.”

Cllr Sanderson responded: “You’re absolutely right. I believe we’re already talking to the Government about this.

“It is incredibly important. I have often said, and I mean it, every child is important.

“A child with SEND is equally as important as a high-flying A-level student. We know that we need more money, and we’re asking for it.

“We will do everything we can.”