On the 1st May the Government activated temporary changes to the legislation covering EHCP’s under the Coronavirus Act 2020.
The duty on local authorities and health commissioning bodies to secure or arrange the provision in an EHCP’s is reduced on a temporary basis to a requirement to a duty to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do so. This is an amendment to Section 42 of the Children’s and Families Act. The full notice for this change can be read here
The SEND Regulations have also been amended where they specify timescales that apply to local authorities, health commissioning bodies and others: principally for various processes relating to EHC needs assessments and plans. Where it is now not reasonably practicable or it is impractical to meet these time limits due to the impact of coronavirus, the specified timescales will not apply. Instead the organisation to which the timescale applies will have to complete the process as soon as reasonably practicable or in line with any other timing requirement in any of the regulations being amended.
The full guidance can be read here
Support for children and young people
A joint ministerial letter from Minister Ford, Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, and Minister Whately, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Care, to children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers, has also been published. This letter outlines the steps taken and a commitment to ensuring that delivering support for children and young people with SEND remains a priority.
In addition to this, the letter emphasises that co-production, partnerships and communication remain key aspects of any work done to support the SEND community.
The letter can be read here
The National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) has also issued a statement on the SEND easements which can be read here
Care Act easements
You may have also heard that some local areas have taken the decision to implement ‘Care Act easements.’ This means that the duties under the Care Act (which apply to adults with additional support needs) will be relaxed. As it stands currently this has not happened in Shropshire and services delivered under the Care Act are still operating as expected.
Further information about what the Care Act easements cover is available on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-changes-to-the-care-act-2014/care-act-easements-guidance-for-local-authorities