CHILDREN with special needs in County Durham could face even deeper cuts to their funding.

Durham County Council bosses have admitted further cuts could be necessary to balance its books.

But they have also promised they will try to manage this without damaging the services vulnerable youngsters and their families rely on.

“There is obviously a lot of concern around the funding for SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] services,” said Coun Olwyn Gunn, cabinet member for children and young people.

“This council, because of the hole in the funding, which was huge, has put in £5.6m from reserves.

“But it has to be a one-off, it’s not sustainable for the council to keep doing that.

"We’re also looking at other ways of cutting spending, without that affecting the service we provide for our children and young people with SEND, which is a crucial issue for us and all our staff in schools.”

In December, cabinet agreed plans in its 2019/20 budget to plug a gap in spending on SEND services worth more than £5.5m. At the time, Coun Gunn said the shortfall was the result of Government cuts which had left funding lagging behind inflation.

Coun Gunn was speaking at yesterday’s meeting of the council's Health and Wellbeing Board.

The panel approved an updated version of the county council’s SEND strategy.

The document is intended to prepare children and young people with special needs for an independent adult life and employment, where appropriate.