School Funding 2019-20
To consider the above report.
James Norris, Head of Finance (AfC) explained the focus was on confirming the DSG budget for 2019/20 and looking at funding for the next financial year. It was looking like the NFF was heading for a soft implementation and so the Borough would be carrying on as it currently was for a couple of years. He added that in section four of the report the figures were provisional and subject to change. The Early Years block figures were due after January 2019 and he was asking the Forum to approve the level of funding for 2019/20; the appendix set out commitments for funding.
The Director of Children’s Services said over the last three years, the Forum had discussed growth fund commitments. There was a suggestion that expansion would have a cost of £420k and the table in section 4.3 of the report showed the Schools Block funding for 2019/20. He added the Forum should expected to spend £427k on the Growth Fund. Tracey Anne Nevitt, Accountant (AfC) said she did not know the percentages of loss, and there could be a gain. The Director of Children’s Services stated he would be surprised if the Borough lost money but, at that stage, there were gains and not losses; the contingency had not been used.
The Acting-Chairman asked what the plan would be if the Council made gains, could it be used for the deficit. The Account (AfC) stated new guidance was being released in December 2018 but, she had a feeling the government would like the Borough to continue using any underspend for the Growth Fund.
Falling Rolls Fund
The Director of Children’s Services stated the money would come from the Schools Block. The Borough was seeing a fall in birth rates so it was seeing fairly flat numbers which meant there would be more variability in parent choices over schools. That would mean there would be an oversupply in areas such as Windsor in a few years’ time. A paper was going to Cabinet which set out the forecast for the next four years. The borough would need more spaces in Maidenhead for places in schools and the Borough would continue to expand schools and also continue with a 5% surplus model.
The Head of Finance (AfC) stated £553K Growth Fund included with an increased focus on priorities of deprivation and inclusion. That would go out to consultation with the results brought back to the Forum in October 2018. The Accountant (AfC) said Braywood was increasing in size and adding classes but, that needed to be added to the funding. Business rates were allocated on a lag so the rates from last year had only just been allocated to the Borough. But there had been an increase in business rates for 2018 so schools had been told what they were going to receive even though it was not possible to fund to NFF. The Director of Children’s Services said one option was to get as close to NFF as possible or, the Borough could go with minimum volatility and minimum change; he asked the Forum for guidance. The Head of Finance (AfC) said the options were to keep rates the same for 2019/20 or, to pay more. The Director for Children’s Services said some contingency had been released back so he felt there was no need to increase that.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Forum:
i. Noted and commented on the contents of the report
ii. Noted and commented on the options for the soft formula and sought views on funding arrangements
iii. Approved the annual Schools Growth Fund allocations for 2019/20
iv. Discussed and agreed the potential inter block movement
v. Discussed the consultation options contained within the report and level of migration towards the NFF model in the soft formula years
vi. Agreed de-delegation rates for 2019/20.