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Bristol City Council to receive £53m bailout for SEND services

A council is set to receive a £53m bailout for its special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services.

Bristol City Council has a huge deficit after spending more money on education than it receives in funding, due to rising demand.

The Department for Education promised the bailout, providing the council reforms its SEND support and services.

A council spokesperson said that if not addressed, the costs will rise to more than £133m in the next two years.

It comes after the council signed up to a programme known as Safety Valve agreements on 21 March.

It joins 37 other local authorities across England that are involved in the initiative.

‘Improve outcomes’

The government introduced the scheme in 2021, and the bailouts come with strict conditions attached – meaning councils have to make sweeping cuts to SEND provision.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the DfE will provide £53.7m to the council over seven years to write off the debt.

The council said the funding will “provide an opportunity to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND”, while operating “in a financially sustainable way”.

“The council will also work to co-design, with schools, a standard practice of excellence in supporting children and young people with SEND via local authority-commissioned SEND School Improvement Officers,” a council spokesperson added.

“Bristol City Council will work closely with parents, carers, school leaders and partner organisations to develop and implement the Safety Valve programme together and will engage closely with stakeholders in the coming weeks to answer any questions.”

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