An MP has accused local authority firm Baker Small of undermining the tribunal system for special needs children.
The Milton Keynes firm is already being investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority after a series of tweets last month over a tribunal decision.
Sharon Hodgson (pictured), Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, told the House of Commons this week that further information has come to light revealing Baker Small is ‘advising councils on making it harder for children to be given assessments for an education, health and care plan to help cut costs’.
Hodgson added: ‘That goes completely against the principle of the Children and Families Act 2014, which is to create a less adversarial system.’
The MP asked for assurances for parents of children with special educational needs and disability that the government is acting to end the practice.
Education minister Edward Timpson said efforts to make it harder for children to be given assessments are not appropriate and that the government will ‘continue to watch carefully how matters develop’.
He said: ‘Let me put on record that practices of that kind are totally unacceptable. The new tribunal arrangements that we introduced were intended to make the system less adversarial and more inclusive for parents and young people, so that we could achieve a better resolution of any problems that emerged.’
Disabilities charity Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) last month published details of its complaint against Baker Small to regulators.
The Milton Keynes firm has apologised for the posts and managing director Mark Small has apologised for a ‘serious error of judgement’, adding: ‘I am passionate about the law in this area and a moment of red mist has done severe damage to my firm and reputation.’