Budget Monitoring and Forecast 2018/19
To receive the above report.
Kevin McDaniel, Director of Children's Services explained to Members that Section three of the report contained the details of the budget for the year 2018/19, and that table two included risks and opportunities. There was £795k additional funding for Manor Green School with a £7k deficit which was driven by meeting the needs of those with special needs. The Director of Children's Services expected to end the financial year with £2m deficit which excluded any positive balances held by schools.
The Director of Children's Services stated he had received a letter of comfort from the Department for Education (DfE) stating it would take up the debt from Desborough College and he looked forward to receiving the cheque.
Within the budget, there was no new service or provision for SEN but, the department was seeing new ways of doing things therefore, the finances would finish the year better than expected.
Table one showed a £2m deficit for the year end, Early Years had a surplus of £655k, and it appeared the grant allocation based on eligible pupils had all been taken up which created an underspend. The Director of Children's Services did not know if the DfE would give that underspend back to the Borough, he was still waiting to hear what next year’s allocation would be.
Tracey Nevitt, Accountant for Achieving for Children (AfC) stated she had received confirmation that if not all of the 15 hours had not been taken up by parents with children in Early Years, those 15 hours would be taken back by the DfE.
v Action – A term by term report to be produced on cost avoidance; savings made by not providing special places at non-maintained schools.
The Chairman said £203k was spent on the high needs block in table three of the report. The Director of Children’s Services confirmed there was no change in provision; the Borough spent £203k more on special schools and alternative provision. The department was still spending more than was available. He added any savings would need to stay within the blocks where the savings were made and there continued to be an overspend on high needs. With regards to the work stream activity, the Borough sho9uld be in a position in October 2018 to state wat was available in the budget. Item 5.4 of the report suggested to look at the entirety of the expenditure and what it provided. Martin Tinsley stated some funding went to Haybrook College in Slough, but there was an opportunity to keep alternative provision within the Borough. The Director of Children’s Services responded RBWM was a very small Borough and he was comfortable that the Borough had some control over how its funding to other Boroughs to provide alternative provision was spent. The Borough did not have enough volume of students to run its own Pupil Referral Unit, so he was happy to continue using places like Haybrook as it was very nearby and was providing efficient services in both short term and longer term programmes.
The Director of Children’s Services directed Members to the back page of the report where it showed £5m spending at Manor Green, he wanted Members to know how the Borough was spending the money and how it would continue to do things that were done in 2018. Joolz Scarlett stated she had developed a matrix which everyone should be able to see to show how spending was allocated and made it transparent. Members noted there were children with high needs in mainstream schools so they should have the same matrix. Martin Tinsley said they needed to make it clear that funding was available to all children as some ended up in special provision schools that should not be there. Joolz Scarlett responded they could keep children in mainstream schools if they had more funding. That was where the spend to save was as it would stop those children going to out of Borough placements. Martin Tinsley stated the situation needed to be reviewed on a regular basis.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That The Forum noted the contents of the report including the reported variance, schedule of Risks & Opportunities and the projected deficit balance carried forward as at 31 March 2019.