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4 Dec

Ofsted condemns ‘disjointed’ special educational needs provision

The schools watchdog Ofsted has delivered a damning indictment of the education of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), warning that provision is “disjointed and inconsistent”, with thousands missing out on vital support to which they are entitled.

In her second annual report as chief inspector of England’s schools, Amanda Spielman drew attention to the plight of pupils with SEND, warning that diagnoses were taking too long, were often inaccurate and mental health needs were not supported sufficiently.

4 Dec

NHS hospitals treat soaring number of older people for drug misuse

Growing numbers of middle-aged and older people are ending up in hospital suffering serious mental health problems after taking drugs, new NHSstatistics reveal.

The number of people in England aged 45 and above admitted with a drug-related mental and behavioural disorder has soared 85% over the last decade.

28 Nov

Spending cuts breach UK’s human rights obligations, says report

Cuts to public services and benefits that disproportionately affect the least well-off, single parents and disabled people put the government in breach of its human rights obligations, a study for the UK equalities watchdog has found.

Echoing the recent findings of the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, the study concluded the scale of the cuts and their lopsided impact on the most disadvantaged were a policy choice, rather than inevitable.

28 Nov

Bank of England says no-deal Brexit would be worse than 2008 crisis

Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal would trigger a deep and damaging recession with worse consequences for the UK economy than the 2008 financial crisis, the Bank of England has warned.

Raising the stakes as Theresa May battles to win support in parliament for her Brexit deal, the central bank said that failure to reach a deal with Brussels – with no transition period to a new trading relationship – would spark an immediate economic crash.

20 Nov

Air pollution cuts two years off global average lifespan, says study

Air pollution cuts the average lifespan of people around the globe by almost two years, analysis shows, making it the single greatest threat to human health.

The research looked at the particulate pollution produced by the burning of fossil fuels by vehicles and industry. It found that in many parts of the worst-affected nations – India and China – lifespans were being shortened by six years.

20 Nov

Councils spent £160m on school transport for children with special needs – survey

Councils spent more than £160m last year on taxis and private hire vehicles to transport children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to and from school, according to a survey seen exclusively by the Guardian.

England’s county councils are warning that rising demand for SEND services is “creating budget risks” for local authorities, with school transport costs for children with special needs up by as much as 45% in some areas in the last four years.

20 Nov

Charities risk becoming irrelevant, warns new report

Health Connections Mendip (HCM) never set out to be a model for anything. However, this deceptively simple project in the small Somerset town of Frome is being talked about, not just as a blueprint for community revitalisation, but as a road to renewal for a UK charity sector struggling to maintain its relevance and public confidence in an age of great social upheaval and public distrust.

The work of HCM, based in a GP practice, has attracted attention mainly because of a startling research study which suggests that when people with health conditions are supported by community groups and volunteers, both they and the NHS benefit. The findings are provisional, but they show that over the three years of the study, while emergency hospital admissions in Somerset rose by 29%, in Frome they fell by 17%.

16 Nov

Exclusive: universal credit linked to suicide risk, says study

Universal credit has become a serious threat to public health, doctors have said, after a study revealed that the stress of coping with the new benefits system had so profoundly affected claimants’ mental health that some considered suicide.

Public health researchers found overwhelmingly negative experiences among vulnerable claimants, including high levels of anxiety and depression, as well as physical problems and social isolation exacerbated by hunger and destitution.

 

12 Nov

‘Devastating’ cuts hit special educational needs

A crisis in funding for children with special educational needs is plunging councils across the country deeper into the red and forcing parents into lengthy legal battles to secure support, according to an Observerinvestigation that reveals a system at breaking point.

Council overspending on children’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has trebled in just three years and is continuing to increase, with councils having to raid hundreds of millions from their overall schools budget to cope. The Observer has identified 40 councils that have either cut special needs funding this year, are considering making cuts or are raiding other education budgets to cope next year.

Data from freedom of information requests and council reports shows that the combined overspend on “high needs” education budgets among councils in England soared from £61m in 2015-16 to £195m in 2017-18. It is already expected to hit £200m this year. The figures cover 117 of England’s 152 councils, meaning the true figures will be higher.

It comes with legal action being threatened across England against councils considering cuts to SEND funding, which supports children with conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and physical disabilities. Cases have already been launched in London and Surrey after a successful challenge to proposed cuts in Bristol. Campaigns are also being planned in Portsmouth and Yorkshire, while a case is being drawn up against central government for failing to properly fund the system.

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