DSG Budget Monitoring and Forecast September 2018-19
To consider the above report.
James Norris, Head of Finance (AfC), stated the report was a good news item as the overall forecast position came down, but with caveats as it was only September so the position could yet change. He asked the Forum to note the report and explained the current reported projected in-year deficit was £365,000 which consisted of:
Ø High Needs top up funding £436,000
Ø Special School top up and place funding increase of £352,000
Ø Early Years 2017/18 unallocated PVI and maintained provider funding (£258,000)
Ø Contingency provision greater challenge resulting in reduced allocations (£97,000)
Ø Inclusion Fund first term lower take up (£45,000)
Ø Sensory Consortium Service (£20,000)
Ø Other minor variances net (£3,000).
The Head of Finance (AfC) stated the High Needs top up funding had not changed and the Early Years PVI released £258k funding from 2017/18. Contingency claims had not been approved so adjustments had been made. He added table one set out the variances. Chris Tomes asked if it was likely to continue. The Head of Finance (AfC) confirmed he did not think they would continue to see further reduction in the deficit. He and tried to be transparent and release information as soon as possible. As soon as he recognised any movements, he tried to bring it to the Schools Forum as soon as possible. The Head of Finance (AfC) said he did not think they would see the deficit get any lower.
In terms of the underspend, the Head of Finance (AfC) stated that take up was a lot lower by parents. Overfunding was at £700k so the government had clawed some of that funding back. It was a one-off amount and a revised projection had been provided for 2018/19. He added that table three showed future projections that were not part of the forecast. There were £303k further projections in the High Needs block so, £600k was put into the risk register. However there were other underspends so it was possible he could say that the deficit for October 2018 could be increased.
The Head of Finance (AfC) explained the net overspend would be an additional pressure on the dedicated schools grant reserve which was at 31 March 2018 was a deficit of £1,212,000; the revised projected deficit as at 31 March 2019 had increased to £1,577,000. The projected reserve balance as at 31 March 2019 of £1,577,000 excluded the Risk and Opportunities Register net balance of £303,000 overspend, therefore the projected reserve balance as at 31 March 2019 could increase to £1,880,000. He added the Borough had low levels of overspend in comparison to other Local Authorities.
The Director of Children’s Services stated the Council’s position was clear. The DfE was clear on the worst case scenario that the risk sat with local authority so, the Council was under pressure to reduce the deficit and had to demonstrate the Borough was trying to reduce the deficit. The moment, the reporting was ok but, it could become under pressure; the DfE had been very clear that local authorities had to be responsible for DSG budgets.
The Acting-Chairman said there were positives so hopefully, the Borough could carry on in that direction. The Director of Children’s Services stated almost every local authority had written to the DfE to request more money for their High Needs blocks. Some had received money but, it was from future years budgets so, technically it was a loan.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Schools Forum noted the contents of the report inclused the reported variance, schedule of Risks and Opportunities and the projected deficit balance carried forward as at 31 March 2019.