Agenda item

Schools Budget 2024-25: De-delegation, Central Expenditure and Education Functions


The Forum received the School Budget 2024-25 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.




Members noted that the budget areas proposed for de-delegation in 2024-25 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 2024-25 are:


Proposed for de-delegation for 2024-25: Budget Area


Secondary (including middle)



Insurances (mainly premises related provided by RPA)



Staff costs (Maternity Pay)



Staff costs (Union Duties)



School Specific Contingency



Support for ethnic minority pupils or under-achieving groups



Licences and Subscriptions



Behaviour Support Services



FSM eligibility




In response to a question asking what would happen if the Forum voted against the de-delegation of the budgets, it was confirmed that the budget would be delegated to the Schools, but that the Schools would be responsible for delivery of the services.



Forum members representing all mainstream maintained schools considered the budget areas listed in the table above and voted in favour to de-delegate these areas for 2024-25 with 6 voting in favour, 1 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 again been reduced by 20% compared to 2023-24. The provisional allocation for historic commitments for Staffordshire for 2024-25 was £1.045m.


The only heading under which Staffordshire retained funding for historic commitments was prudential borrowing. The indicative budget for 2024-25 was £924,130. Any remaining historic commitment funding would be transferred to the DSG reserve which was 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.


It was proposed that to avoid confusion in the future, the Schools Budget report be restructured to clearly identify which DSG funding block funds the services being provided. The reconstructed report will distinguish between the approvals that are being requested from maintained school representatives and the decisions that are requested from all Forum members.


All Forum members considered the budget areas of historic commitment funding and approved the use of the Historic Commitments funding, including SEN transport, 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 2024-25 was £4.1m 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 was currently in deficit.


In response to a question asking what was included in the budget line “Planning for the education service as a whole and Admissions”, it was clarified that this budget was used to deliver a range of statutory roles on behalf of all schools.


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 2022 and October 2023 school censuses.


It was proposed to be used to fund pupil growth in the National Funding Formula (approx. £1.3m in 2023-24), and allocations as per the Growth Fund policy (approx. £1m). Any underspend will be transferred to the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) deficit balance.


In response to a question asking if the Growth Fund Policy was a Staffordshire owned policy or a National policy, it was confirmed that the Policy was Staffordshire owned, but it follows National guidelines.


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 19 voting in favour, 0 voting against and 1 abstaining.


Central Early Years Expenditure


Following the introduction of the Early Years Funding Formula, central overheads were previously limited to 5% of the Early Years Block Funding for 3 and 4 year olds. With the extension of eligibility entitlements in 2024-25, (15 hours for all 2 year olds from April 2024 and 15 hours for 9 months and over from September 2024) the 5% limit had now been expanded to cover all thresholds to allow local authorities to retain more funding to cover the central costs of the new expanded service. For 2024-25, the Local Authority was asking for £2.2m of Early Years funding to be retained centrally. It was highlighted that the growth of the eligibility entitlements made estimating funding uncertain as demand was unknown. Based on the Government’s current forecast of take up, the authority’s ask of £2.2m (which equated to 2.4% of eligible funding) was considerably below the allowable funding of 5%. This expenditure funded statutory functions, along with back-office administration and overheads, with Members receiving a breakdown of these costs in the report.


The new 2 Year old rate and 9 months and older rate would be subject to the same Government formula requirements as the 3 and 4 Year old rate. Staffordshire intended to run a 4-week consultation with Early Year providers on high level principles for setting the 2 year old and under rates for 2024/25 and beyond. This consultation would start on Monday 13 November 23 and would close on Friday 8 December 23. A paper would be presented at the January 24 Schools Forum which would include the results of the consultation with Early Years providers.


It was confirmed that a working group meeting would be arranged, as in previous years, to support the allocation of the 24/25 funding rates for providers.


All Forum members considered the Central Early Years Expenditure and approved the proposed level of central support as set out in the report with 20 voting in favour, 0 voting against and 0 abstaining.


Education Functions for Maintained Schools Only


The LA asked for provisional approval of a levy of £57.87 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 7 voting in favour, 0 against and 0 abstaining.


Resolved – a. That the outcome of the maintained school vote on de-delegated budgets be noted;

b. That the indicative allocations for both historic commitments, including SEN transport, and ongoing functions within the Central School Services Block be approved and retained centrally for this purpose;

c. That the continued use of the formula driven Growth Funding allocation be approved;

d. That the retention of £2.2m of Early Years funding centrally be approved; and,

e. That the levy per pupil in 2024-25 to fund statutory duties performed by the LA and previously funded by the ESG general duties be approved.


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