PLANS to change the way provision for pupils at risk of school exclusion is funded have been defended, despite warnings the move will ramp up costs rather than create savings.

As North Yorkshire County Council’s executive considered proposals for next year’s budget, members faced further pressure from campaigners to use its reserves to continue funding its Pupil Referral Service to allow time to build infrastructure to carry out early interventions in mainstream schools.

A question to the executive from Karen Carberry, of the National Education Union, stated : “Failure to listen to 60 per cent of respondents to the consultation, the campaign groups, warnings from professionals and the local authority’s own commissioned advice will, without doubt, bring much greater costs than it will savings.”

Executive members said “far from abandoning vulnerable young people that find themselves at risk of being excluded”, the authority was investing £10m in services for those with high needs.

Executive member for finance, Councillor Gareth Dadd, said: “This is not just about money. It is very easy for any who is providing a service or even service users to say use reserves. The problem is when you look at our budget report for the end of 2022 we will not have the reserves to dip into. We are still facing a £14m black hole.”