To present final proposals from the Council for the 2022-23 Schools Block and Central Schools Services Block elements of the Schools Budget.
The Forum considered a report which presented final proposals from the Council for the 2022-23 Schools Block (SB) and Central Schools Services Block (CSSB) elements of the Schools Budget.
Paul Clark explained that the report repeated the decisions that the Forum had previously made and brought it all together in one document along with some new information: namely, the confirmed implications from the October 2021 census update. There had been a big increase in the Additional Educational Needs (AEN) factors such as free school meals. Overall, the impact of that increase and all other proposals would be a budget gap of £0.510m if the Council adopted all proposals. This was higher than the usually anticipated budget gap of between £0.2m and £0.3m. Whilst there was additional pressure from AEN, the funding that the Council received would still be based on the AEN eligibilities from October 2020 whereas the Council had a responsibility to fund schools based on the AEN eligibilities on the October 2021 census.
In order to balance the forecast shortfall on the SB, the Council was proposing to finance the normal funding gap form reserves, with the additional AEN pressures from scaling the NFF rates as follows:
1. to draw down up to £0.182m from the reserves created by the Council to help finance the additional costs of new and expanding schools;
2. to draw down to £0.174m from the unallocated Schools Budget Reserve to support the additional costs of new and expanding schools; and
3. to fund schools at 99.75% of the NFF, with all factors scaled by the same percentage, equivalent to £0.154m.
It was also reported that a new school supplementary grant had been allocated by the DfE to help cover the health and social care levy and other increases in costs. An initial calculation indicated schools would get an average increase in per pupil funding of 3% which was more than the core DfE settlement. Therefore, taken together, on average schools would receive a 5.7% increase in per pupil funding. Costs would also increase next year but at this stage it was difficult to assess that with any accuracy. However, initial assumptions indicated there was sufficient funding to cover those costs.
The Forum expressed concern about rising costs and the uncertainties ahead and asked whether there was any opportunity to look at this again if further information became available. Paul Clark replied that nothing would change in terms of income to be received from the DfE; all that would change were the cost pressures which would be different school by school and each school would have to make decisions about how to spend the money it had available.
1. in its role as the representative body of schools and other providers of education and childcare, the Forum requests that the Leader of the Council AGREES the following for the 2022-23 Schools Budget:
i. the changes to budgets as set out in Table 3 of the report, in particular:
a. that the Schools Block DSG be set at £84.434m (line 3);
b. that the Central School Services Block be set at £0.867m (line 3); and
c. the changes to all other budgets that amount to £2.903m (line 18);
ii. that the £0.510m resultant funding shortfall will be met from:
a. Council Reserves, to the value of £0.182m;
b. Schools Budget DSG Reserves, to the value of £0.174m; and
c. scaled NFF rates, to the value of £0.154m;
iii. that the factors used in the BF Funding Formula for Schools are the same as those used by the DfE for BF in the NFF (Annex 4 of the report);
iv. that the units of resource used in the BF Funding Formula for Schools be set at 99.75% of the values used by the DfE in the NFF;
v. that the cost of the MFG should be financed by all schools above the average increase in per pupil funding;
vi. that the resulting DfE pro forma template of the 2022-23 BF Funding Formula for Schools, as set out in Annex 5 be submitted by the 21 January deadline; and
vii. that other Schools Block related grants, including the new Schools Supplementary Grant, be set to the amounts anticipated in 2022-23; and
2. as decision maker, to AGREE
i. that the arrangements in place for the administration of central government grants are appropriate;
ii. the financing and budgets for the Growth Fund are as set out in Annex 1 of the report; and
iii. the budgets to be centrally managed by the council on behalf of schools, are as set out in Annex 2 of the report.