MP Daisy Cooper has called on the Government for faster special educational needs and disability assessments.

The St Albans MP was speaking in a parliamentary debate on special educational needs and disability (SEND) funding.

The assessment helps determine how much help a child needs.

Mrs Cooper said the statutory time limit for an assessment is 20 weeks, which was far too long for families to wait.

She also highlighted the plight of children in schools run by Hertfordshire County Council and said as many as one in seven pupils are being kept waiting longer than the 20-week period.

During the debate Mrs Cooper said: "It is completely unacceptable families have to wait for far too long.

"The statutory timescale is 20 weeks, that's four and a half months to wait to get the assessment."

Following the debate she said SEND assessments was one of the number one issues raised in her constituency surgeries.

She added: "I can see the enormous strain families face when a school is unable to cater for their child's needs or when they have to wait weeks for an assessment.

"Around the country, 1.3 million children have special educational needs and under the county council, the number has reached an all-time high.

"The high-need spending deficit in local authorities is forecast to reach between £1.2 billion and £1.6 billion nationally by 2021 with many councils relying on reserves to make up the shortfall.

"The Government’s announcement that it will fund less than half the SEND deficit doesn’t begin to scratch the surface – it is a single-year payment and not targeted where it’s needed most.

“If all our children are to receive the life chances they deserve, we need the Government to invest properly to ensure they get adequate support and intervention at the right time.”

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said there has been a dramatic increase in demand for SEND services over the last five years.

They added: "To meet this demand, we have invested approximately £3 million to transform the SEND Local Offer over the next two years.

"We have already been working closely with parents, young people and SEND professionals to help shape delivery of the next steps of the programme.

"This transformation will ensure we are planning ahead to deliver services more effectively to children and young people, and their families and meet the expected 36 per cent increase in demand forecasted for 2023 and beyond."