What documentation is there related to the LA duty to fund Radio Aids?
Our Consultant responds:
Local authorities (LAs) must balance their budget and duties under the Equality Act as a radio aid is regarded as an “auxiliary aid” (see below).
Under the Equality Act 2010, schools, early years providers, post-16 institutions and local authorities (LAs) have duties towards individual disabled children and young people. These include a requirement to make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services, to ensure that disabled children are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers.
The DfE explains that schools are responsible for meeting the additional support costs for pupils with SEND, up to the value of £6,000 per pupil, and LAs are required to provide schools with sufficient funds, from the schools’ block of the Dedicated Schools Grant, to enable them to do so. When the costs of additional support required for a pupil with SEND exceed £6,000, the LA should allocate additional top-up funding from its high needs budget to cover the excess costs.
Equality Act 2010 (c. 15)
Part 2 — Equality: key concepts
Chapter 2 — Prohibited conduct
(20) Duty to make adjustments
The duty comprises the following three requirements.
The first requirement is a requirement, where a provision, criterion or practice of A’s puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.
The second requirement is a requirement, where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.
The third requirement is a requirement, where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to provide the auxiliary aid.
Follow-up question: In our LA we have always been able to meet Radio Aid need from our ‘allocated’ budget or by requesting help from an LA ‘Access and Inclusion’ pot. This pot now appears to have disappeared. We are not keen on asking schools to pay for equipment as they will purchase as they see fit, following three quotes etc, rather than give the child a trial of various systems to see which they prefer. It also takes all the responsibility of maintenance out of our hands.
Is there some guidance to LAs about best practice being to keep the funding and equipment centrally with the ToD Service?
You can approach the LA to support your funding to fulfil its duties under the Equality Act.
Each Local Authority makes its own arrangements. It is wise, as you say, to hold back a proportion of funding to meet such contingencies.
It is also wise to ensure for any child with an EHCP that needs a radio aid system that this written into their provision.
Stuart Whyte, November 2020