Published Monday, 21st January 2019
More help on the way for Sutton children with special needs
In a first for local government, Sutton Council is to support a new Community Interest Company, offering new and expanded support for the borough’s children with special needs or disabilities.
The current ‘Portage’ service will continue to provide free preschool education services at home for disabled children and children with special educational needs up to the age of three and a range of community based groups and activities. The new company will offer a range of additional chargeable services for such families up to the age of eight years who wish to access bespoke interventions for their child.
The new organisation will also offer membership services for families and subscription services to educational settings & Early Years Providers to maximise opportunities for inclusion, learning & development.
The move is believed to be the first council Portage service established in this way. Its business plan has received unanimous, cross-party support.
Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader of the Council, said launching a new staff-led not-for-profit company will help secure the borough’s existing Portage services, as well as increasing the number of Sutton families who receive help and support.
She said: “We hope this new company will become a leader in its field for children with special educational needs or disabilities. No other council is doing anything like this. The move will ensure the long-term future of the Portage service in Sutton by integrating them into this new commercial venture.
“More importantly, this will provide the service residents need at a time when all councils are facing increasing pressure to make cuts in services.
“I want to praise council staff for their ambition to build on the service’s excellent reputation and we can now hopefully ensure even more Sutton families benefit from their support.”
Sutton Council will continue to invest the £225k it currently spends on its in-house service for at least the next two years
The new company will be called PlayWise Learning CIC and is a Community Interest Company (CIC). Portage will remain free for Sutton families. Other services will be chargeable and available to Sutton residents.
The move was agreed at the January meeting of the Council’s Strategy & Resources Committee.