Agenda item

Schools Budget 2023-24: De-delegation, Central Expenditure and Education Functions

Minutes:

The Forum received the School Budget 2023-24 de-delegation, central expenditure and education functions report. The report sought approval from the Forum for the Local Authority to retain Dedicated School Grant (DSG) funding to deliver services on behalf of schools and Early Years.

 

De-delegation

 

Members noted that the budget areas proposed for de-delegation in 2023-24 were the same as those in the previous years. There was also an assumed level of inflation, these primarily affect pay award inflation. The areas proposed for de-delegation for 2023-24 are:

 

Budget Area

Primary

Secondary (including middle)

£m

£m

Insurances (mainly premises related provided by RPA)

1.200

0.932

Staff costs (Maternity Pay)

1.261

1.072

Staff costs (Union Duties)

0.151

0.064

School Specific Contingency

0.390

0.185

Support for ethnic minority pupils or under-achieving groups

0.948

0.345

Licences and Subscriptions

0.601

0.236

Behaviour Support Services

0.572

Delegated

FSM eligibility

0.066

0.035

 

Forum members representing all mainstream maintained schools considered the budget areas listed in the table above and unanimously voted in favour to de-delegate these areas for 2023-24 with 6 voting in favour, 0 against and 0 abstaining.

 

Central School Services Block (CSSB)

 

Members noted that the funding in the CSSB was split into Historic Commitments and Ongoing Functions.

 

Historic Commitments

 

It was noted that funding for historic commitments had been reduced by a further 20% compared to 2022-23. The provisional allocation for historic commitments for Staffordshire for 2023-24 was £1.3m.

 

The only heading under which Staffordshire retains funding for historic commitments was prudential borrowing. The indicative budget for 2023-24 was £924,130. Any remaining historic commitment funding will be transferred to the DSG reserve which is currently in deficit.

 

Forum approval was also required for the SEN transport budget of £250,140. This was now funded from the High Needs Block.

 

All Forum members considered the budget areas of historic commitment funding and approved the use of the Historic Commitments funding as set out in the report with 19 voting in favour, 0 voting against and 1 abstaining.

 

Ongoing Commitments

 

Members heard that the estimated cost for other ongoing education functions for 2023-24 was £3.9m and were to be funded by DSG through the Central Schools Services Block (CSSB). Any underspend on the CSSB would be transferred to the DSG reserve which is currently in deficit.

 

All Forum members considered the budget areas of ongoing commitment funding and unanimously approved the use of the Ongoing Commitment funding as set out in the report with 20 voting in favour, 0 against and 0 abstaining.

 

Growth Funding

 

Members noted that, as in previous years, the growth funding allocation had been derived using a formula which allocates growth funding based on the differences between the primary and secondary numbers on roll in Middle Super Output Areas (MSOA) in the local authority on the October 2021 and October 2022 school censuses. It was proposed to be used to fund pupil growth in the National Funding Formula (approx. £2m in 2022-23), and allocations as per the Growth Fund and Infant Class Size policies (approx. £740k). Any underspend will be transferred to the DSG deficit balance.

 

All Forum members considered the Growth Fund allocation and voted in favour of the continuing use of the Growth Funding allocation as set out in the report with 18 voting in favour, 0 voting against and 2 abstaining.

 

Central Early Years Expenditure

 

The Local Authority was asking for £1.9m (4.0%) of Early Years funding to be retained centrally. This expenditure funded statutory functions, along with back-office administration and overheads, with Members receiving a breakdown of these costs in the report.

 

It was agreed that a working group meeting would be arranged, as in previous years, to support the allocation of the 23/24 funding rates for providers. Full details of the allocation would be brought back to the Schools Forum meeting to be held in March 2023.

 

All Forum members considered the Central Early Years Expenditure and approved the proposed level of central support as set out in the report with 18 voting in favour, 0 voting against and 2 abstaining.

 

Education Functions for Maintained Schools Only

 

The LA asked for provisional approval of a levy of £56.47 per pupil from maintained schools to fund Education Functions (as set out in Appendix 3 of the report)previously funded by the Education Services Grant.

 

In response to a query relating to the increase in levy being primarily against asset management costs, it was confirmed that there was a contract in place with Entrust to deliver this service on behalf of the Local Authority, and that Service Delivery Agreement (SDA) had recently been renegotiated.

 

All mainstream maintained Schools Forum Members unanimously agreed to approve the levies per pupil (set out in Appendix 3 of the report) to fund the costs of the associated services, with 6 voting in favour, 0 against and 0 abstaining.

 

Resolved – That:

  1. the outcome of the maintained school vote on de-delegation be approved;
  2. the indicative allocations for both historic commitments and ongoing functions within the Central School Services Block be approved and retained centrally for this purpose;
  3. the continued use of the formula driven Growth Funding allocation be approved;
  4. the retention of £1.9m of Early Years funding centrally be approved and that a working group meeting be arranged to support the allocation of the 23/24 funding rates; and,
  5. the levy per pupil in 2023-24 to fund statutory duties performed by the LA and previously funded by the ESG general duties be approved.

 

Supporting documents: