Tag Archives: national audit office

Government watchdog confirms the huge scale of the SEND funding crisis

The National Audit Office has today published their investigation into special educational needs support. Entitled “Support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in England“, it has revealed that more than four in five local authorities are overspending their high needs budget.

A couple of months ago I sent a survey to all headteachers in my constituency asking how education cuts affected their pupils. All the surveys returned highlighted cutbacks in SEND provision as being a huge area of concern.

1.3 million pupils in England are identified as having special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Over a million (79%) do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

The NAO report looked at how well pupils with SEND were supported, examining

  • the system for supporting pupils with SEND (Part I);
  • funding, spending and financial sustainability (Part II);
  • the quality of support and experiences of pupils and parents (Part III).

The report is a long read – 60 pages – but includes detailed analysis and charts to outline the current dire state of affairs. The conclusions reached are:

How well pupils with SEND are supported affects their well-being, educational attainment and long-term life prospects….The system for supporting pupils with SEND is not, on current trends, financially sustainable. Many local authorities are failing to live within their high-needs budgets and meet the demand for support. Pressures – such as incentives for mainstream schools to be less inclusive, increased demand for special school places, growing use of independent schools and reductions in per-pupil funding – are making the system less, rather than more, sustainable. The Department needs to act urgently to secure the improvements in quality and sustainability that are needed to achieve value for money.

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Vince Cable in his own words on the sale of Royal Mail

Vincent CableThe publication of a report today by the National Audit Office criticising the “deep caution” of Vince Cable’s department in setting the sale price of shares in Royal Mail has, inevitably, been leapt on by opponents of the policy. Critics who would, of course, have been equally happy crowing if the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills had set the price too high causing the flotation flop.

Vince Cable went to the despatch box of the Commons today to defend his department’s actions, making headlines for unambiguously stating, “The last thing …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , and | 56 Comments

Opinion: Should we be selling state assets to reduce debt and create jobs?

One of the unexpected by-products of the controversial privatisations of the 1980s was the discovery of shockingly poor real estate management by state bodies – a rare glimpse of a problem only brought to the surface when the need for proper balance sheets arose.

UK government departments and agencies have since been shown to exhibit appalling asset management, as any sweep through Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or National Audit Office (NAO) reports will demonstrate – stories of unused land & buildings, ‘forgotten’ landholdings, leases on punitive terms, opaque sale of land at below market prices. Government departments also own very large …

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Lynne Featherstone to reform Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone is to reform the Equality and  Human Rights Commission, cutting its budget and removing some of its responsibilities, most notably its obligation to assess how Government policies would affect the poorest.

Now, if ever there was a quango in need of reform, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is that body. Dysfunctional seems to be the best word to describe the EHRC. Wasteful would be another. For three years running, the National Audit Office qualified its accounts. Last year was the first year since its formation in 2007 when it managed to …

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Ministry of Defence under fire following new report into accommodation for the military

The National Audit Office has a new report out which finds that:

While 52% of Service families feel their accommodation is in a good condition, 31% are dissatisfied with the condition of their property.

The MoD is currently undertaking a programme to upgrade Service family accommodation. In the last two years it has upgraded some 1,700 properties and will continue upgrading an average of 800 per year. At the current rate of upgrade, it would take some 20 years before all properties reached condition 1 (the highest of four standards)…

the MoD also has 9,170 vacant properties. This is 18% of its housing

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