To receive and consider a report containing details of the schools current financial position.
The Forum received the Budget Monitoring report which was set out in agenda pages 13-22 and was presented by Hawa Bedwa, Schools Finance Manager.
Hawa reported that the overall trajectory of the budget was of an increase in surplus. However, the net forecast position was likely to change significantly once all transactions were taken into account. The reason for the delay was that there had been some issues in implementing the new system.
Hawa stated that the summary position showed a consistent spend from last quarter reports, and the variances indicated were comparatively low. The surplus had increased from £552K to £559K, with all the expenditure and income now static. Hawa was confident it was possible to achieve the projected £552K surplus.
Hawa informed Schools Forum that it had been difficult to produce the reports in time due to limited staff resources and delays in receiving schools returns. She pointed out that returns were often late, incomplete and inaccurate. Hawa urged headteachers and governors to emphasize to schools the importance of submitting school returns accurately and on time, and also to respond to queries in a timely manner.
Janet Perry asked what information exactly was required from schools that was preventing the production of the report. Hawa explained that the schools control codes needed to be placed against school forecasts to find out what the actuals were. John Bayes pointed out that it was also important to have the census reports returned.
Carole Simpson stated that sometimes the returns were not signed because of difficulties in coordinating governors meetings in time for the deadline for the submission. It was agreed that headteachers and governors should be advised to timetable governors’ meetings in time for schools returns.
After much discussion, it was agreed that Hawa would advise bursars to work together with her to find a solution to the issue of returning submissions in a timely manner.
During the discussion of the item the following points were made:
· John Bayes noticed that the Variance column was calculated from the June forecast, and not as Variances from the Budget. The Chairman suggested dropping the June figures from the report;
· The Chairman suggested adding the figures for the next year’s budget to the report;
· Derren Gray, Piggott Headteacher made the following points:
o If there was a carry forward at year end 2017/18 of a surplus of £559K, what would happen to this surplus (or any deficits) when the formula changed in 2018/19?
o It was predicted that next year’s budget would have a significant deficit; Forum asked who would be making a decision to address it? Hawa stated that she would have to consult with Senior Management on this issue and report back;
o The first draft of the new national funding formula suggested that Local Authorities would retain an element of Growth Fund matched to previous year’s spend. Therefore it might be advantageous to increase the planned size of the Growth Fund for next year, if this was to be matched out in future years;
o The Minimum Funding Guaranty (MFG) was at a 1.5% reduction every year, the new funding formula said this could not be increased by more than 3% or go down by less than 3% of the core budget. Currently the Lump Sum sat outside of MFG. If the same formula was retained by having £175K Lump Sum any reduction in the Lump Sum in the new formula where it says it will be £110K would mean everyone would lose £65K;
· Forum was in agreement that it was important to discuss the implications of the proposed new funding formula;
· Hawa pointed out that this was still under the consultation period. Councillor Dolinski urged Forum to encourage Headteachers and Governors to respond to the consultation and put forward the views and questions;
· In response to a question, Hawa stated that the consultation related to the allocation for 2019/20;
· Alan Stubbersfield suggested looking at the implications of a new funding formula as a separate item in another meeting.
1) Headteachers and Governors would be advised to consider the deadline for school returns submission when timetabling governors’ meetings;
2) The implications of the new funding formula be included in the forward plan for further discussion;
3) Headteachers and governors be encouraged to respond to the funding formula consultation;
4) The report be noted.