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‘Affluent families’ to blame for rise in special needs hearings

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A report for the Local Government Association (LGA) blaming the increase in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) tribunal cases on an ‘unbalanced’ statutory framework and ‘affluent’ families using lawyers has been heavily criticised by legal charities and campaigners.

The number of appeals to tribunals over educational needs disagreements has more than doubled in the past decade. According to the report, ‘Agreeing to disagree?’, by consultancy Isos Partnership, councils reported that ‘tribunal appeals were more likely to come from more affluent families and less likely to come from families from more deprived backgrounds. highlighting a potential lack of equity of access to dispute resolution’.

Local authorities lose 96% of SEND tribunal cases, which disability website Special Needs Jungle says councils spend £40m a year in legal fees contesting. Almost of a third of cases relate to a local authority’s failure to assess a child.

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