Vikram Hansrani explained that historically the use of centrally retained High Needs funding had not been clear, but in response to a request from Forum made earlier in 2018, the supporting paper gave details of the services and resources available by allocated budget. Forum members acknowledged that a great deal of work had gone into preparing the information now made available, and welcomed the transparency.
Vikram Hansrani explained that a new Speech and Language Therapy service provider, Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (BHFT) had been appointed late in 2018 and were to start working on EHCPs with effect from week beginning Monday 21 January 2019. Headteachers and SENDCOs had been informed by email and a list of all the children concerned had been provided to BFHT: members were assured that the LA was working closely with the new provider to ensure all children were accounted for. There would be no further funding available and work therefore also continued to address the management of the funding gap.
The content of the new commissioned services was queried and whether this would be available from Friday 1 February when the previous contract arrangements expired. Vikram Hansrani confirmed that a further meeting was due to be held during the current week, after which a communication would be made giving updated information, including details of a launch date.
The meeting returned to items 8 and 9 on the agenda: