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Posted by: John Brace | 19th February 2014

Will contingency in Labour’s 2014/15 Schools Budget be enough to fund outcome of Lyndale School call in?

Will contingency in Labour’s 2014/15 Schools Budget be enough to fund outcome of Lyndale School call in?

                         


The item on the Schools Budget starts at 21:54. I include a transcript below of what was said during this item. The Schools Budget (2014/15) is a recommendation from Cabinet to the Budget Council on the 25th February. This is two days before the Coordinating Committee meets to decide on the call ins on consulting on closing Lyndale School and the top up payments for schools.

Surjit Tour towards the end states that the proposed budget includes a contingency “to meet any potential financial implications that may arise as a result of the forthcoming call in hearing”, however as the Coordinating Committee hasn’t met and made decisions on the call ins yet how can the financial implications be quantified?

7. Schools Budget
Cabinet (13th February 2014)

The report for this item can be read by following this link.

Cllr Phil Davies: The key item there is the Schools Budget for 2014/15 and Tony you’re going to introduce this? Thank you.

Cllr Tony Smith: Thank you Chair. Thank you. This is the Schools Budget for 2014/15. The Schools Budget report which you have summarises the main factors that have been taken into account in setting the Schools Budget of £240 million for 2014/15.

The overall funding for pupils aged three to sixteen is maintained in cash terms. In addition the budget contains a small amount of growth for schools.

There’s funding for the further expansion of two year old provision from September 2014 and for the full year effect of high needs costs for 4-16 students. Some details for academies for high needs have still to be finalised and the Schools Budget will be updated with this information when this information is available.

The Schools Budget report was considered by the Schools Forum on the 21st January. The Forum agreed the recommendations listed in paragraph 2.1 of this report and that said that the dedicated schools grant funding the Schools Budget for maintained schools and academies is approved at the sum of £240,058,000.

The headroom of £1,215,100 which is detailed in paragraph 4.6 is allocated within the formula to all schools and early year providers. The high needs contingency totalling £908,900 is agreed.

A reduction in planned programmed maintenance, PPM, of £200,000 is agreed. Use of the dedicated schools grant reserve totalling £732,000 in setting the Schools Budget is agreed and the remaining balance for automatic meter readers reclassified as a reserve for installation of defibrillators.

An additional recommendation is also made in respect of the funding for school’s private finance initiative. The Council currently adds £2.6 million to the ring-fenced Schools Budget in respect of the PFI funding gap.

£2.3 million of this Council funding is an agreed saving in 15/16 and the remainder is protected at this time. This proposal is to reduce the Council’s funding for PFI by £600,000 in 14/15 … 15/16.

The 14/15 Schools Budget has already been submitted to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and is finalised. However there is a £1 million approx schools budget carry forward from 13/14 to 14/15 which can be used to compensate for the £600,000 funding gap.

The schools therefore will receive the same budget for 14/15 as planned. I’ve got a resolution Chair which I’m putting forward. “Council regrets that due to its financial challenges it is unable to fund in full the PFI affordability gap for 14/15 and will reduce the Council contribution to the Schools Budget by £600,000 to £2 million. Officers are instructed to take appropriate actions in respect of the 2014/15 Schools Budget.” That’s the resolution.

Cllr Phil Davies: Thanks Tony, I’m just going to ask Surjit to just say a few words about one particular element of this Schools Budget, Surjit.

Surjit Tour (Wirral Council’s Head of Legal/Member Services): Thank you Chair. Queries have been raised with regards to whether there is an impact on the outstanding call in, in relation to the Schools Budget which may have a direct impact.

One of them in particular is the proposals for changes to the school’s top up payments for schools with high needs. Members will be aware that the matter is to be considered by the Policy and Performance Coordinating Committee on the 27th February. The position with regards to the proposed Schools Budget is that it includes a contingency provision and that provision is considered sufficient to meet any potential financial implications that may arise as a result of the forthcoming call in hearing and therefore you can agree the, the proposed budget is both sufficient and sufficiently flexible to address any potential implications that may arise and that therefore means that the budget can be proposed to Council forthwith.

Cllr Phil Davies: OK, so Tony Smith’s moved the resolution that we all heard. Can I ask can we agree that recommendation?

Councillors: Agreed.

Cllr Phil Davies: OK thank you very much, thank you Tony. Right OK, thanks very much for that Tony.

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