Councillors and committees

Agenda item

Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) 2018/19 Outturn and Deficit Recovery Plan

(Appendices A, B and D attached.  Appendix C To Follow)

Minutes:

The Forum considered a report which provided an update on:  the final 2018/19 DSG grant allocation and its application to the Schools Budget in 2018/19; the final DSG outturn for the 2018/19 financial year; and the draft DfE Deficit Recovery Plan. [Schools Balances for 2018/19 were attached as Appendix A (Maintained Schools) and Appendix B (Academies and Free Schools. An Update on the SEND Transformation Plan was attached as Appendix D to the report. 

 

The Government has introduced a new requirement for authorities with a cumulative overspend on the DSG fund of more than 1% to submit a three year Deficit Recovery Plan.  (Kingston’s overspend on its DSG is 8% of the annual grant allocation – with a cumulative overspend of £11.071m comprising £0.381m overspend in 2018/19 and £10.690m overspend from 2017/18 carried forward.)  The draft Deficit Recovery Plan for submission to the DfE was circulated at the meeting as ‘Appendix C’ to the report. 

 

The Forum was asked to note the final DSG expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year and comment on the DfE Deficit Recovery Plan.

 

The Forum explored in detail the causes of under and overspends in the different Blocks of funding, including the increase in the number of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) (an increase by 144 during the year to 1201 EHCPs in force currently).

 

One important element within the SEND Transformation Plan will be to seek more contributions from the Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group to contribute to funding therapy services to support delivery of SEND provision within the borough thus reducing the need to resort to expensive out of borough private placements.

 

There was a request for the AfC to undertake some research and monitoring over the next few years into how many parents of children with SEND accept in-borough places who might otherwise have expected out of borough private placements.  This would be added as a task for the relevant workstream in the SEND Transformation Plan.

 

Forum members indicated that they had been surprised at how many out of borough pupils benefitted from the borough’s SEND provision and hoped that places in the new special schools in Kingston and Richmond will be allocated mainly to Kingston (and Richmond) pupils, rather than attracting pupils from other boroughs.

Forum members hoped that the review that Eamonn Gilbert had undertaken on placement commissioning would continue and other efficiencies in commissioning be likewise explored.

 

Members of the Forum indicated that, although the list of school balances appeared to indicate that schools had plenty of reserves, some of the figures provided by the DfE were not accurate and in reality virtually all schools had found that there reserves were reducing and were now being used to fund deficits in their budgets. The Chair of the Forum commented that all Kingston’s Secondary Schools were expecting an in-year deficit and it was to provide for this eventuality that schools had been accumulating reserves.

 

The Forum considered that it was unrealistic to expect that Kingston’s in-year deficit (let alone the cumulative overspend) could be resolved within three years, and agreed that a five year recovery plan would be more feasible. (It was recognised that, without the £3m loan from central Government, Kingston’s deficit would have been even worse.)

 

The Forum recognised that this was a nationwide problem and that the scale of the problem is such that local authorities across the country risk going bankrupt from the overspends.

 

The Forum encouraged all schools to send information about their deficits to the Secretary of State and DfE who are currently calling for evidence up to the end of July – the more detailed evidence that is provided by individual schools about the funding crisis, the greater support will be given to the lobbying by local authorities across the country. 

 

The Forum noted and agreed the 2018/19 DSG Fund outturn position

 

The Forum unanimously AGREED to support the AfC and the Council in writing to central Government to lobby the DfE to increase funding to the DSG to reflect the massive increase in demand for SEND provision across the country. (The Council‘s Health and Wellbeing Board had already written to the Secretary of State to lobby on this matter.)

 

The Forum AGREED to support the submission of a five rather than three year deficit recovery plan,  agreed that it would not be possible to recover the cumulative deficit position and supported the general content of the plan.

Supporting documents: