Agenda item

Schools Budget Outturn 2017-18 and school Balances

To consider the above item.


James Norris, Lead Accountant – Children’s Accountancy stated he had some relatively good news on January 2018 projected positions and highlighted the following key points in the report:


The paper summarised the final outturn position of the 2017/18 Schools Budget, the funding held in the DSG reserve and the level of maintained school balances held at 31 March 2018.


·         The DSG opening reserve as at 31 March 2017 was a deficit of £399,000 with net earmarked project reserves of £353,000 and a general deficit of  £752,000

·         the DSG reserve as at 31 March 2018 was a deficit of £981,000 with earmarked project reserves of  £231,000 and a general deficit of £1,212,000

·         the central schools budget ended the financial year 2017/18 with an over spend of £460,000. This is funded by an increase in the DSG general defict

·         the balances of RBWM’s maintained schools at 31 March 2018 decreased by a net £100,000 to £1,937,000 in 2017/18

·         The 201718 schools budget of £61,860,000 consisting of £35,679,000 of maintained schools delegated budgets and £26,179,000 central schools budget (including Early Years). Delegated budgets were treated as spent as soon as they were delegated, and more information on maintained school balances was given in part 5 of the paper. The central schools budget ended the financial year 2017/18 with an over spend of £460,000 (0.7%).

·         There was a net in year deficit of £460,000 relating to the dedicated schools grant funded services. The in-year deficit of £460,000 would be a pressure on the dedicated schools grant which already had a deficit of £752,000 brought forward from 2016/17. The revised deficit on the dedicated schools grant would be £1,212,000.


The Lead Accountant – Children’s Accountancy stated the overspend was down on the last reported position due to vacancies. Early Years was overspent by £102k. the number of movements helped to reduce the overspend. The £1.2m overspend deficit would be brought forward.


The Chairman queried how the new National Funding Formula (NFF) was introduced. He asked what the point was of trying to reduce the deficit when others were running up debts of £30m - £40m worth of debts. The Lead Accountant – Children’s Accountancy confirmed that other Local Authorities (LA’s) did have debts of £10m but he suggested maintaining debts at appropriate levels due to the situation being unknown of what was to happen with the NFF. The Borough’s schools needed to remain cautious. The Chairman stated there was a moral position to live beyond schools means as due to other LA’s debts being greater, their children were getting a better deal and then there was the possibility that those debts would then be written off. Mike Wallace stated they needed a comparison per pupil of debt across other LA’s and to find out what they intended to do about their debts. The Lead Accountant – Children’s Accountancy confirmed that other LA’s were in more debt and the Borough’s schools were holding a steady line with regards to reducing the debts. Martin Tinsley stated his school’s children would suffer with a potential lesser education if he had to lose staff unlike other LA’s which had far greater debts. Tracey Nevitt, Accountancy, stated it was difficult to make comparisons. Martin Tinsley responded he wanted to know the percentage of debt of the whole budget per pupil and then compare it other LA’s; it could be that Surrey had £30m debt but, per pupil it worked out a similar percentage of the Borough’s due to budget size.


v  Action – the Lead Accountant – Children’s Accountancy to liaise with other LA’s to find out what they were doing with their debts and report back to the Forum.


The Lead Accountant – Children’s Services explained to Members that table four of the report was set out across different sectors and their net position. The Chairman stated he had look at the table and middle and secondary schools had a £103k surplus. The Lead Accountant – Children’s Services confirmed one school had a surplus of £133k but there were four others with a deficit. He added table five het out the High Needs Draft Budget allocation for 2018/19.


The Chairman stated the last column on table five showed there was money left over. The Lead Accountant – Children’s Services explained that total balances brought forward were £100k down and that secondary and nursery schools had contributed to the reduction but primary schools had increased spending. Martin Tinsley confirmed his school had put capital projects on hold till next year therefore, there will be a zero spend as building works could not go ahead; there were a number of schools that had done the same. The Chairman stated it was a difficult picture; the Borough used to drawback a percentage but he had no idea if any councils were going to do that now. There was a strong argument to so say schools had to spend what was in the pot on their current children and no surplus should be sat there. Tracy Nevitt responded that academies were talking about publishing their own accounts but, she had not had confirmation about that as yet. The Chairman said it would be nice to find out how much money was sat unspent in academies which could be passed on to schools.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Schools Forum noted the contents of the report and approved the carry forward of the deficit balance on the DSG reserve.


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