Councils lose 96% of SEND tribunals – at a cost of £60m

Almost 10,000 SEN unit places could have been funded with the money that councils wasted on unsuccessful court disputes with parents and carers seeking SEND support for their children.

Of 11,052 SEND tribunals registered by councils in 2021/22, a staggering 96% were won by parents, carers, and young people.

The result is £59.8m of public money wasted on SEND tribunals – enough to fund SEN unit placements for 9,960 young people.

Furthermore, nearly 3,500 further cases were withdrawn or conceded before they got to tribunal hearing.

The disturbing figures have been revealed in a study commissioned by the Disabled Children’s Partnership and published by Pro Bono Economics (Jemal & Kenley, 2023).

Furthermore, the number of SEND tribunals being brought is rising – with the 11,052 hearings in 2021/22 representing a 29% increase on 2020/21.

Tribunals are brought by parents, carers and young people who wish to dispute council decisions about the provision of Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs).

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