Jeremy Hunt announces Funding for Special Free Schools and Children’s Social Care in the Spring Budget 2024

On Wednesday 6 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt announced the Spring Budget, which includes funding for special free schools and investment in children’s social care investment.

Key announcements include:

  • Special Free Schools: £105 million towards a wave of 15 new special free schools, creating over 2,000 additional places for disabled children and those with special educational needs (SEN) throughout England. This investment builds on the funding for SEND allocated during the 2021 Spending Review. The locations of these special free schools will be announced by May 2024.
  • Investment in Social Care: £165 million funding for councils to support the provision of children's social care over the next 4 years, helping to boost placements for young people and contribute to the maintenance and rebuilding of the children's social care estate.
  • Child Benefit:
    • From April 6, nearly ½ million more families will benefit from an increase in the threshold at which parents start paying the High-Income Child Benefit charge, rising from £50,000 to £60,000.
    • The rate at which this charge is applied will be halved, ensuring that Child Benefit payments are not fully withdrawn until earnings reach £80,000 or higher.
    • An average savings of almost £1,300 per household for ½ million families next year

Alongside the Budget, the Department for Education confirmed the location of 20 Alternative Provision (AP) free schools, which will provide over 1,600 additional AP places across England. This commitment, part of the Spending Review 2021's pledge to invest £2.6 billion in high needs provision, will support early intervention efforts, improving outcomes for children requiring alternative provision and helping them fulfil their potential.

You can read the statement on the budget from the Children’s Charity Coalition and National Children’s Bureau here

We welcome the announcement of additional special free schools. Alongside existing investment in testing the SEND and AP Change reforms it is a welcome focus on the educational experiences of disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs. However, we believe there is a danger of us not really shifting the dial for children and young people unless the Department of Health and Social Care take an equal level of interest.

Amanda Allard, Director at the Council for Disabled Children