Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Council's approach to the SEND First Tier Tribunal

This information comes via Freedom of Information Requests and shows the cost/benefit analysis the Council went through in order to improve its chances of winning tribunals at the cost of independent placements for children. It's cold hearted stuff.

Council monitoring report regarding First Tier Tribunals (29.5.12).
From the report:

Following an investigation of the cost to the authority of the placement of young people in independent/non maintained special schools as the result of a tribunal ruling, we have recently procured the services of a legal representative for these types of hearings. The input so far has been very positive; however it is too early to assess the cost effectiveness.


Although North Yorkshire remains an authority with a relatively low number of SEND appeals per head of population, the SEN Assessment Review team recognise that there will always be a need to challenge a number of what we feel are inappropriate appeals to tribunal in order to provide equity of provision made for young people with SEN and to ensure best value for money. This is particularly the case when parents request independent non maintained special school which can be very expensive especially over several years of a pupil’s education placements. We need to ensure that this type of very specialist provision is only provided when no alternative is available.

A follow up asked for the investigation to be published: Investigation into the Possible Use of External Legal Advisors for First Tier Tribunal Appeals (Feb 2011). From the report:

As an example of possible savings to be made, if the LA in one year used legal representation for 2 SEND appeals for OOA [Out of Area] placements, it would be at a cost to the LA of around £40k.  Presuming that one of the appeals was not upheld, with an average cost of £313K over the life of the placement, the average year on year cumulative saving to the LA, taking into account the cost of the representation could be £273k.

The external solicitors (Baker Small) framework agreement is here. Cost of service package £8000.00 +VAT