Growing pressure on budgets to support high-needs students “will not be going away”, councillors have been told.

Demand for extra help for pupils with special needs surged by 14 per cent in Bexley last year, contributing to a budget overspend of more than £750k by Bexley Council.

The authority is planning to slice £898k from schools funding to put it into the high-needs blocks – warning the pressure won’t be solved easily.

Labour councillors questioned the sustainability of moving the cash, saying there has been “disquiet” from schools about this before.

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Councillor Wendy Perfect said school heads were getting “fed up” with having money moved from their budgets.

Jacky Tiote, director of children’s services, told a scrutiny meeting last night the pressure on high-needs is well known.

She said: “We like every other council have named that pressure and it isn’t going to go away. We are doing what we can in building school places, so pupils can stay local, but with the number moving in we can’t build the school places to match demand. It’s a pressure that will remain.

“Among directors of children’s services – SEN pressures are the loudest concern, and the demand continues to grow.”

The council is preparing to sign off on transferring 0.5 per cent of schools' funding into the high-needs budget.

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Bexley Council contributed to recent surveys led by London Councils and the Local Government Association to highlight the high-needs cost pressures and the £537m funding shortfall nationally.

The council has also written to the secretary of state to air its concern about the big increase in kids needing education health and care plans.

Teresa O’Neill, leader of the council, said at the meeting on February 6: “We wrote to Damien Hinds, so there is a conversation about the increase of education health plans that is going on. It is a problem nationally, not just in Bexley.

“But it is a matter of concern so we have written to the secretary of state about it and made representations.”