Portsmouth Parent Voice (PPV)* Position Statement: Proposed Funding Changes to Special Needs Funding in Portsmouth. November 2018
In response to the crowdfunding post circulated on social media last week regarding a parent’s campaign to raise funds to request a judicial review against Portsmouth City Council (PCC) and the article published in the local paper on Monday 5th November, our parent carer forum, PPV, would like to issue the following statement.
Budgets across the board have been under severe pressure in the city. The High Needs Funding budget has remained static whilst demand has increased dramatically over the past four years leading to a £400,000 projected overspend.
PPV was made aware of this earlier this year and we asked whether an impact assessment was needed to ensure that children and families affected were taken into account when making those decisions. We were told that as this was not a budget cut this was not needed.
PPV were then invited to attend a number of meetings with PCC and schools where proposals were developed to manage the increasing demand within the budget available. PPV strongly voiced our concerns relating to children and families remaining at the heart of the decision making processes as described in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice. Whilst it is important to remember that the views of a single parent can never represent the views of all parents across the city, the involvement of PPV in this process ensured that parents’ perspectives were taken into account in developing these proposals. It is also important to note that we were not part of the decision making process as suggested in the News on the 5th November.
PPV has a very good working relationship with PCC, and we believe we make valuable contributions to discussions on behalf of parents. We try to be present at as many meetings as possible so that we have an opportunity to try and influence the proceedings but decisions can and will be made that we may not agree with.
During these particular discussions we discussed how the changes would be communicated to parents and we will be involved in ensuring that parents are kept informed of the changes to funding arrangements that have been agreed.
An independent parent has created a crowd funding page to raise funds for a potential Judicial Review regarding SEND funding and as these reviews in other local authorities have been hugely detrimental to the relationship between local parent carer forums, the local parent community and their local authority putting them at odds with each other, PPV called our regional adviser from Contact to ensure what our duties were as a parent carer forum.
Under Contact’s guidelines, we are not allowed to lobby and campaign on behalf of one individual but we are able to share information about campaigns to keep local families informed which is what we did.
Our members and parent representatives work tirelessly and voluntarily to represent ALL parents of children and young people with additional needs in the city. On top on their caring duties, they attend meetings, training and events to represent the views and experiences of local families and they do this in a voluntary capacity.
In this statement, we have explained how we have approached this, how we challenged proposals and the strict guidelines in which we operate in regards to campaigning and lobbying. We operate independently from the Local Authority and any other pressure groups and will continue to represent local families and their views as we have always done.
*Portsmouth Parent Voice (PPV) is part of the voluntary sector and is jointly commissioned by Contact, Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group and Portsmouth City Council. We are under the umbrella of Portsmouth Disability Forum, who are a registered charity.
Our main aim is to help parent carers of children and young people with additional needs to shape and improve local services. It is run by parents for parents.