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Surrey County Council accepts findings of Local Government Ombudsman report

Surrey County Council has accepted the findings of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report that shows the council were at fault regarding a recent SEND transport complaint.

The Ombudsman found that a teenager who attends a special school missed the start of the school year because the council did not tell his mother she needed to reapply for his transport provision.

Surrey County Council has apologised to and reimbursed the family, and wholly accepts the recommendations of the Ombudsman.

The Council will pay a total of £2650 for reimbursement of costs, distress, uncertainty, time and trouble for the complainant in pursuing the complaint.

A thorough review is now underway, with the council working closely with families, schools and transport providers to ensure the correct information is available in a timely fashion, and that incidents of this nature do not happen again in the future.

The Ombudsman has welcomed the proactive way the council has responded to the report, and its willingness to review its services.

Improving the home to school transport system for SEND children has been an ongoing priority for the council. Currently £32m per year is spent on transporting 6,405 pupils to and from school every day during term time, funded wholly out of council tax receipts.

The council also introduced a new school travel assistance policy in September 2020, following discussions with pupils, parents, schools and transport providers the year before. The policy aimed to provide young people with the skills and confidence they needed to use a wide variety of transport options, including walking, cycling and public transport.

This will enhance the independence of young people in the county and reduce the dependence on council services. Parents are encouraged to work with the council on this initiative.

From the start of the next school year in September 2021, the council will be creating over 200 additional mainstream places in Surrey for pupils with special educational needs, making a total of an additional 1,100 such places over the next three years. This means those children will be closer to home, have shorter journeys and a better home-life balance.

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