AN agreement has been signed between Devon County Council (DCC) and the Government which will see an extra £95 million of national funds set aside to reduce the deficit on special needs education.

DCC’s cumulative spending on education for children with special needs and disabilities (SEND) over the past 10 years is set to create a deficit of £163 million by the end of this financial year.

In common with many councils across the country, we have been negotiating with the Government  for extra funding for special needs education under the so-called Safety Valve programme.

The council have also set aside £10 million this year to help bring down the deficit.

The new agreement will see the Government contribute £38 million by the end of March with the remaining cash being spread out over the following eight years.

DCC will contribute a further £5 million a year from its revenue budget and £20 million from reserves to bring the deficit back into balance by the end of the agreement.

In a letter from the Department for Education to Devon, a spokesperson says: ‘I am pleased to confirm that Ministers are content to enter into a Safety Valve agreement with your local authority.

‘This will include the allocation of £95 million of funding over nine years to contribute to the elimination of your deficit.

‘Thank you for your hard work with advisors over recent months.’

Devon’s Cabinet member for SEND, Lois Samuel, said: ‘This is a significant achievement and opportunity for the council.

‘It not only provides the framework for service improvement but also puts the authority back onto a sustainable financial footing.

‘It ensures services are delivered within the annual ring-fenced grant for high needs and reduces the cumulative SEND deficit to zero by the end of the term.

‘I would like to thank our senior leadership team for all their hard work.

‘We now need to work increasingly closely with our partners in schools and the NHS. Working together as a team internally and with our partners is so integral to this agreement.’