To receive and consider a paper containing the 2020/21 Revenue Monitoring report.
Katherine Vernon, Schools Finance Manager presented the 2020/21 Revenue Monitoring report.
Katherine Vernon stated that an in-year deficit of £2.6m was projected, with the pressure continuing to be within the High Needs Block (HNB). Taken with the brought forward deficit of £3.36m, a forecast cumulative deficit of £5.98m was now projected to 31 March 2021.
Katherine Vernon stated that there was a further defict movement of £1.09m on the figure reported previously to Schools Forum, the main movements were due to increased numbers and costs across:
· Out of Borough maintained
· Independent Special and Non-Maintained
Katherine Vernon stated that schools were facing additional financial pressures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· Carol Simpson stated that a lot of schools were talking about the loss of income resulting from the current situation. However, there was no joined up approach to deal with the situation as yet;
· Ian Morgan stated that although Early Years was funded differently from schools, the sector was also facing significant financial difficulties as a result of loss of income during this period;
· Sal Thirlway, Assistant Director for Learning Achievement and Partnerships stated that he welcomed a dialogue with Schools Forum to form a long term strategy to deal with the current challenges;
· In relation to the exceptional costs associated with coronavirus claims that had been approved by the Department for Education (DfE), Jay Blundell asked if there was a pattern to a successful claim;
· Katherine Vernon stated that she did not know the specifics of each school’s claims;
· Paul Miller suggested that best practice should be shared with schools, and asked for ideas as to how best to discuss and communicate this information to schools;
· Sal Thirlway stated that the local authority could put forward a claim to the DfE on Schools Forum’s behalf;
· In response to a question Lynne Samuel, Senior Finance Specialist confirmed that additional financial pressures on schools, as a result of the pandemic, were anticipated this year. Schools Forum would be kept informed through the regular revenue monitoring of maintained schools; she pointed out that the local authority did not have the same level of information for academy schools. She agreed to contact schools about their challenges during this time and report back to Schools Forum.
Schools Forum considered that the Primary and Secondary Headteacher groups and other groups would be the best place to carry out discussions about how to deal with the financial losses resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Carol Simpson suggested that schools be contacted by the local authority to ascertain their position in relation to loss of income during this time. Katherine Vernon stated that maintained schools had already been contacted during the summer and there was an indication of a loss of £600k in income. Lynne Samuel stated that it was the service’s intention to continue to gather information and share it with Schools Forum.
1) The report be noted; and
2) The next monitoring report will include more information around the financial pressures being faced by schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.