The Business Advisor (Schools) will present a report, Document LR, which provides an update on a number of matters relating to the Dedicated Schools Grant. This include initial confirmation of the DSG balances brought forward from the 2019/20 financial year. It also includes some information about the position of the DSG in relation to COVID 19.
The Schools Forum is asked to consider and to note the information provided.
(Andrew Redding – 01274 432678)
The Business Advisor (Schools) presented a report, Document LR, which provided an update on a number of matters relating to the Dedicated Schools Grant.
In his presentation, the Business Advisor highlighted three main points of interest:
· The initial confirmation of DSG block balances brought forward from 2019/20.
· Some further work carried out by the Authority looking at the approach to the calculation of formula funding adjustments for permanent exclusions in the academy sector. The Authority has an initial proposal to consider, on which we will now consult directly with academy trusts. The Authority will come back to the Forum in September or October for a final view.
· Initial consideration of the impact of COVID-19 on the DSG and on schools, academies and other providers. This report seeks to introduce key themes and to identify points to continue to monitor. Further updates on these will be presented from September.
The Business Advisor explained the main areas of financial impact and that the area of most concern, in terms of immediate budget impact over the summer term, has been the loss of income streams. Loss of income may continue as a significant issue from September.
The Business Advisor, supported by the Strategic Manager, Sufficiency and Intelligence, also in particular highlighted concern around the sufficiency of the DfE’s national financial support mechanisms in place for early years providers - nursery schools and the PVI sector. Two immediate issues are that the DfE’s exceptional costs fund does not extend to nursery schools nor PVI providers (supporting additional costs associated with cleaning and social distancing) and the CJRS is set to reduce and then cease in October. The CJRS is the main mechanism currently supporting loss of income. We will need to further consider these issues as we move into autumn following full re-opening. The Forum may be asked for a view on local support measures for early years. The Forum may also find that it is approached more widely by schools, academies and other providers for financial support and so may need to agree its general position in relation to such requests.
The Forum’s discussion that followed the presentation of this report focused on the impact of COVID-19. Members made the following comments:
· That the DfE’s national school exceptional and additional costs fund is very limited. For example, it does not provide for reimbursement of additional cleaning costs unless there has been a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case at the school. The Deputy Director, Education and Learning, stated that this does not help schools when the government’s own advice is that the best prevention is increased cleaning and hygiene. She added that the Authority has regular conversations with the DfE and is trying to get across the message (unsuccessfully so far) that schools, academies and other providers, will incur significant additional costs in preparation for opening in September and then on an on-going basis. The Strategic Manager, Sufficiency and Intelligence, also highlighted that the Authority continues to lobby the DfE regarding the exclusion of early years providers from the national reimbursement scheme.
· That there have been issues relating to the CJRS (furloughing) in the way this has been interpreted for agency staff, which are still to be resolved. The Business Advisor, with caveat, stated his understanding that the CJRS was now closed to new claimants.
· That the Authority must not lose sight of the provision of meals for vulnerable children. The Deputy Director reported that the Council has just agreed the funding of a summer holidays food scheme, including for children that are not eligible for FSM but who’s families are facing hardship.
That the contents of Document LR be noted.