Agenda item

Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Outturn 2017/18

The report sets out the final Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn against the budget set for 2017/18, and provides detail on the overall £1.8 million underspend.

 

Minutes:

Andrew Ward introduced this report which set out the final Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) outturn against the budget set for 2017/18 and provided detail on the overall £1.8 million underspend. He informed Members that the 2017/18 Statement of Accounts had been submitted to the Council’s external auditor and was expected to be finalised and approved by the statutory deadline (31 July 2018).

 

Mr Ward informed the Forum that the underspend had been caused by an underspend on school growth and rising rolls within the schools block (£2.1 million) and this was despite a £1 million reduction in the budget in 2017/18. Furthermore, there was also an underspend in the Early Years block, largely due to an underspend on nursery provision for three and four year olds in maintained schools and a planned underspend on central budgets. In contrast, the High Needs block had overspent in 2017/18 by £1.6 million, primarily due to overspends on top-up funding to mainstream settings, and a higher amount of recoupment for High Needs post-16 than anticipated. There had been an underspend of £0.3 million on High Needs recruitment which had not been predicted.

 

Members heard that the DSG underspend of £1.8 million would be added to existing reserve of £6 million, so that reserves would total £7.8 million as at the start of 2017/18. Mr Ward reminded the Forum that it had been approved to use £2.5 million for allocation in the funding formula in 2018/19 and 2019/20. An additional £2 million reserves would be retained as a contingency against cost pressures and potential funding reductions within the High Needs block and the Early Years block.

 

Dena Aly directed Members’ attention to Appendix B (page 45 of the Agenda pack) which contained a breakdown of individual balances by school. The overall balances had decreased by £2.7 million and although this was the second year in which balances had decreased, Ms Aly said that it was not possible at present to identify a pattern. Six primary schools had finished the year in deficit and 13 had small balances (less than 8%), while most special schools and Pupil Referral Units had increased their balances. Improvement projects and other planned activities had been the main reasons for spending funds and most schools had been able to manage pressures without deviating from their balances significantly. In terms of future steps, Ms Aly noted that most schools were likely to have taken actions to address the drops in their balances and schools in deficit would be required to set balanced budgets.

 

A Member of the Forum enquired whether the Local Authority received information on the balances of academies and Mr Ward explained that their accounts were published and it was possible to look at their net current assets, but this would not provide an easy comparison. In a similar way, examining the accounts of an academy school would not be informative when these were part of larger Multi Academy Trusts.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)            The contents of the Dedicated Schools Grant Financial Outturn 2017/18 report, be noted; and

 

(ii)          A further report regarding school budget plans be presented at the Schools Forum meeting in October 2018.

 

Supporting documents: