Cornwall is second worst county for issuing special education EHCP care plans on time

There has been a rise in requests for EHCP assessments for children in Cornwall
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Cornwall Council is the joint second worst local authority in the country for issuing care plans for children with special educational needs within the necessary time frame.

The Department for Education (DfE) published its annual statistical summary of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in England last week which shows that Cornwall Council only had a 1.6 per cent success rate for meeting the 20-week EHCP deadline compared to the national average of 50.3 per cent in 2023. The council says that figure has now improved.

Most children and young people’s special educational needs can be met within educational settings with specialist SEN support. However, a few children and young people with complex needs will require the support of an EHCP.

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The Government's official statistics published this month show almost 600,000 children and young people now have an EHCP in England. The care plans mean councils have a legal duty to meet the child or young person's needs. Last year saw a 26 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of new plans issued across England.

Cornwall Council has stated that it receives in excess of 100 EHCP needs assessment requests every month. The growing cost of children's care, along with school transport and emergency housing, has the biggest financial impact on the cash-strapped council's budget. The council has seen a £10m increase in demand in children’s social care services in 2024/25.

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The DfE figures show a huge drop in the rate of EHCPs being issued to children on time in Cornwall in the last four years. Data shows that in 2020 94.5 per cent were issued within the 20-week deadline, compared to 1.6 per cent last year. The figure has dramatically decreased year on year, while the number of children assessed for the care plan has risen from 401 in 2020 to 549 last year.

Essex is the worst performing in a table of the local authorities least likely to meet the 20-week deadline with 0.9 per cent, with Cornwall and Portsmouth both on 1.6 per cent, followed by County Durham, West Sussex, Southend-on-Sea and Suffolk, with Devon at 4.6 per cent.

Devon is the county most likely to have refused an EHCP in 2023, while Barnsley is the local authority most likely to have refused a care plan assessment, based on the DfE stats.

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: "Cornwall, along with other local authorities across the country, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of requests for a needs assessment. This is the process used to understand a young person's level of need and how best to support them on their education journey, this could be with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) or through other types of support.

"While we recognise there is more work to be done, since the DfE statistics were compiled the number of new EHC plans issued within 20 weeks has increased to five per cent, and due to the implementation of several improvement measures that number continues to rise."