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The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) welcomes the We Need to Talk: Access to Speech and Language Therapy Report, published today (11 June 2019) by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield. 

The report, which examines how much money is being spent on speech and language therapy for children aged 0-17, reveals huge variations in spend between 181 clinical commissioning groups and 144 upper tier local authorities across England. Over half the areas who supplied data saw a real-terms decrease in spending during the last three years. 

These findings substantially underpin conclusions made last year by the RCSLT’s and I CAN’s Bercow: Ten Years On Report that services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs in England are inequitable and inaccessible.

Chief Executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Kamini Gadhok MBE, said: “The low level of investment in speech and language therapy services and resulting postcode lottery of support for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs and their families is clearly unacceptable. Moreover, the downward trend in spending in more than half of areas is deeply worrying, when a survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of the RCSLT and I CAN showed that 59% of parents already have to fight to get the support their child needs.

“The RCSLT is grateful to Anne Longfield for using her unique powers to put this appalling situation firmly back in the spotlight. We now look to the Government to take new, urgent steps to address these issues.”  

Today, the RCSLT will join Anne Longfield in calling on the Government to:

  • Develop a renewed government strategy to ensure the necessary help for children with speech, language and communication needs is in place across the country.
  • Hold areas to account for the support they provide to children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.
  • Require that all areas have a joint strategic plan in place which assesses the level of speech, language and communication needs in their area and outlines the joint commissioning plans to meet that need.
  • Highlight and share best practice.

The RCSLT stands ready to work alongside the Children’s Commissioner, Government departments and other stakeholders to bring about the changes needed to improve access to speech and language therapy for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs and help improve their lives. 

Read the RCSLT response here. 

For further information or to request an interview, contact: Josephine Olley on 0207 378 3013 or email: Josephine.olley@rcslt.org