Richmond Council has said it acknowledges parents’ ‘frustrations’ over the transfer of children with special needs to new education and health care plans (EHCPs) and has made ‘significant investment’ to make sure it meets a Government deadline.

Data released in a Freedom of Information request in November showed Richmond was the slowest borough in England at that point to implement the change but the council said its hard work means it is now ahead in comparison to neighbouring boroughs and that only a ‘small handful’ of youngsters who not be transferred by the deadline set by the Government of March 31.

The EHCP is a document which replaces the old Statements of Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulties Assessments. It sets out what health and social care provision is required and means the council has a legal duty to ‘secure’ the educational provision specified.

Richmond Council said all children have now began the 20-week process of transferring.

Since 2016, an additional £700,000 has been fed into the service, with five new members of staff hired.

A council spokeswoman said: “New applications without statements [the old provision pre-EHCP] were prioritised because those children were currently not getting any support.

“With some of the older children or complex cases, or if families have requested a delay, we are expecting a small handful to still be on statements.”

Hampton blogger Ann Hickman told Richmond & Twickenham Times: “It is far more important that the right decisions are made, the right provision is provided and that details are transferred to our EHCP correctly than it being completed by an arbitrary government deadline."

Richmond Council’s director of children’s services Robert Henderson said: “Since the FOI was submitted to councils, much has been achieved and significant investment has been made locally to ensure that all transfers are completed by the required deadline.

“We acknowledge the frustrations that parents have had. On top of all the other changes to SEN provision, and narrowing budgets, the challenge of transferring all SEND plans to EHC plans by 2018 was an enormous task that all councils have struggled with.

“Since the summer we have had a new, large, stable team, of officers working hard to ensure that each transfer results in strong, informed and individually tailored plans. This dedicated team allows us to do it at a faster rate, at a high quality.”

However, not all parents are happy. Sarah Ziegel, author of A Parent’s Guide to Coping With Autism, lives in East Sheen and said the delay with her elder twins nearly cost them their college placements.

She said: “Because of the delay with the EHCP, the college didn’t have time to hire one-to-one staff to work with the boys.

“Nothing was done at all in the time between March and June, it only needed to be signed off.”

Sarah said it was through “luck” she was able to arrange that the family’s own summer assistant would work with the boys while the college hired someone.