A report before the Forum advised that there had been an underspend of £2.4 million in the Dedicated Schools Grant and that this was partly due to a need to retain a contingency for transition to the National Schools Funding Formula. There had been an underspend of £772k for the early years block and the Forum had previously agreed to allocate this as a contingency in 2019-20 in order to increase base rates for early years providers. An additional £7k had been retained to go towards the software review.
A £25k underspend for the schools block was due to less secondary school insurance being needed due to the number of Academies. The main proposal for these funds was to offset the 2018-19 high needs deficit or add to the high needs budget for 2019-20. De-delegation had seen £121k refunded to primary schools with a £9k contingency held for Trade Union facility time. The High Needs block had overspent by £954k although accounting adjustments had reduced this from the porevious foreacast of £1.2 million. A fuller report would be given at the next meeting of the Forum. Underspends from Central Schools Support would be put into the High Needs budget.
The Pupil Growth Fund had been used to fund two new permanent expansions at Parklands and Whybridge Juniors as well as previous year expansions in 16 schools. Some 15 schools had unfilled bulge classes and unfilled primary school places often led to financial problems. New permanent expansions had taken place at three secondary schools – Marshalls Park, Redden Court and Royal Liberty. Whilst there was an underspend of £435k on a £2.7m budget, this was likely to be lower for 2019/20 due to the Government formula.
Seven primary and one secondary school received funding via the Falling Rolls Fund. SEN recoupment write-offs would be put into the High Needs budget as would a £775k contingency although £185k would be retained for next year’s National Funding Formula. The £130k saving in ARP funding would also be added to the high needs block. The £25k held under Balance of Grants would be retained in case this needed to be returned to the DfE. It was therefore proposed that a total underspend of £2.1m would be transferred to the High Needs block.
It was accepted that underspends needed to be reported to the Forum on a more regular basis. ARP set up costs were for additional revenue costs not covered in provision of new ARPs from the capital budget. It was necessary however to keep monitoring the levels of pressure on schools with ARPs. It was also clarified that there was no longer any legal time limit on when SEND recoupments could be written off. Forum members felt that SEND provision was working in some places but not in others. The relevant transport budget had been overspent by £700k due to the numbers of SEN children being placed away from local schools.
The High Needs provision deficit figures would be published in the s.251 outturn statement and overspending was surveyed regularly.
The Forum agreed the allocation of the DSG underspend in support of 2019-20 funding.