Weekly political news round up – 28th August 2015

August 28, 2015 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

The National Audit Office has published an interactive guide which provides an overview of how local government is funded, the pressures that local authorities face, as well as information on staffing and major recent and future developments. The guide highlights that the Government has reduced funding for local authorities by 37% in real terms between 2010-11 and 2015-16.

The Department for Education has published a guide for local authorities on data submissions for the 2017 special educational needs survey. This document outlines changes from the 2016 survey, including the number of requests made for education, health and care plans. It also establishes age groupings for individual items of data, setting out five year intervals (under 5, aged 5 to 10, 11 to 15 and so on) until the age of 25.

The Department for Education has also published updated guidance for local authorities and providers of services for children and young people with SEND on the transition to the new 0-to-25 SEND system, introduced by the Children and Families Act 2015. The guidance, which is valid from September 2015 onwards, now outlines that the time required to conclude a transfer review of SEN statements to education, health and care plans has been extended from 14 to 18 weeks, as well as various other smaller changes.

Workforce statistics published by the Scottish Government show that NHS Scotland expects to recruit over 1,000 more full-time members of staff – 640 of which will be nurses and midwives, and 170 being other medical staff. The Scottish Government also published figures showing a reduction in the number of senior managers in NHS Scotland by 33.1%.

Royal College of Nursing warns of a child health crisis caused by a lack of investment in school nurses

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that a lack of investment in school nursing is leading to an escalating health crisis amongst children and young people. The RCN identified that school nurses have a key role to play in supporting the 6% of children with a disability and the 15.4% of pupils in England with identified special educational needs, arguing that they are “essential in educating children and their families about these issues, while providing support and care for those in need”. However, despite an increase in the prevelance of the health problems that children face, the provision of school nurses is under threat as a result of £200m of cuts to public health budgets in England.

According to the RCN, the number of school nurses has fallen to 3,053, with Health Education England reporting that there is a 24% vacancy rate. The RCN notes that poor financial investment and a lack of time has resulted in many school nurses being unable to do their jobs.

Department for Communities and Local Government publishes statistics on local authority financing and expenditure

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published an overview of the expenditure and financing of local authorities in England, which show that revenue expenditure was £95.8 billion in 2014-15, a decrease of 0.7% from £96.4 billion in 2013-14.

The biggest decrease was in education, which decreased 4% from £35.9 billion in 2013-14 to £34.4 billion, as a result of schools changing status to centrally funded academies. The biggest increase was in children and families social care expenditure ‒ from £6.91 billion in 2013-14 to £8.1 billion in 2014-15 ‒ as a result of the definition of expenditure on services for young people being moved from education to children’s social care. The public health budget, which currently includes the provision of school nurses, as well as health visitors from October 2015, increased from £2.5 billion in 2013-14 to £2.7 billion in 2014-15.