The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman criticises LB Hackney for significant delays when completing plans for children with Special Educational Needs.
Reg 13(2) The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 requires that a local authority must send the finalised EHC plan to:-
(a) the child’s parent or to the young person;
(b) the governing body, proprietor or principal of any school, other institution or provider of relevant early years education named in the EHC plan; and
(c) to the responsible commissioning body,
as soon as practicable, and in any event within 20 weeks of the local authority receiving a request for an EHC needs assessment.
When the EHC plan is issued, disagreements can be resolved by mediation or by the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) standing in the place of the local authority.
The Ombudsman looked into two cases and found that in one case a boy with autism only received his plan after 69 weeks. In the second case, there was a 48-week delay in providing a plan for a young boy with Down’s syndrome.In both cases the boys’ families were found to have made significant efforts to ensure the council provided the services they were entitled to.
The Ombudsman made a number of specific (including financial compensation) recommendations in relation to the families concerned and also general recommendations designed to improve the relevant processes within the LB Hackney.
In our experience, while many local authorities adhere to the said timescales, this is not always the case. This case is a reminder that, when unnecessary delays are experienced in issuing an EHC plan, parents and young people should consider invoking the local authority’s official complaints procedure.
Full details of the Ombudsman’s findings can be found click here