After the 11th January Forum meeting an e-mail was received from the ESFA stating they had made an error in the Free School Meals (FSM) data they provided for use in setting the 2018/19 delegated school budgets.
As a result of their error the summary of the 2018/19 Authority Proforma Tool (APT) that was recommend for submission at the 11th January 2018 Forum meeting (Annex B of the Dedicated Schools Grant 2018/19 Schools Forum paper) has had to be slightly amended.
The adjustment (which reduced the FSM data numbers) has not changed the amount of DSG Gloucestershire received or the total amount delegated to schools for 2018/19, but has changed some of the allocations within the overall formula and increased the capping level to 5.4%.
The new version of summary that will be sent to the ESFA by the 19th January 2018 submission deadline is attached for information.
5.1 Stewart King, Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, presented the report which outlined the implications of the announcements on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) for 2018/19.
5.2 The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, informed the Forum that there had been some key developments since the Forum had agreed the recommended approach to the local schools formula for 2018/19 at its meeting on 20 October 2018. The DfE had issued a revised dataset based on the October 2017 school census, and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) had announced some rule changes to allow different methods of calculation to be used in the Authority Proforma Tool.
5.3 The DfE had also announced the DSG for each authority for 2018/19. Gloucestershire’s position was that there would be an increase of £14.8M (3.5%) from the current 2017/18 DSG, amounting to a total of £441.7M for 2018/19.
5.4 Members were informed that the formula had been subsequently revised, to take account of those changes, but it remained within the spirit of the Forum’s previously recommended formula. Officer’s explained that Gloucestershire’s proposed formula now used the revised dataset, factor rates 100% equivalent to those stated for the National Funding Formula (NFF) and delivered the minimum pupil allocations of £3,300 for primary and £4,600 for secondary.
5.5 Officers emphasised however that the final totals used in the formula still differed to those in the illustrative NFF issued by the DfE, as local authorities were not able to fully replicate the NFF. One member asked for clarification on how it was possible that some schools would see gains to their budget in excess of the 3% increase mentioned in Justine Greenings statement. In response, Neil Egles, Finance Manager, Schools Strategy and Capital, explained that even in the DfE’s NFF formula some schools showed increases above 3% due to the fact the NFF had three different capping methods, of which only one was based on 3% and the other two allowed increases in excess of 3%. He added that Gloucestershire had to use the formula rules allowed within the ESFA’s Authority Proforma Tool (APT), this did not allow multiple capping methods like the NFF. A single capping percentage had therefore been used in the APT and set at the level needed to balance to the school block delegated budget total available. He explained that the minimum per pupil funding level was also not subject to the gains cap. Both of those factors had meant the cap percentage had been able to be set above the 3% level.
5.6 The Finance Manger made the point that not all local authorities wanted to move as close to the NFF as possible; the decision was influenced by the funding history and culture in each area.
5.7 Officers drew the Forum’s attention to Annex C of the report which outlined the level of primary and secondary units of funding used in the 2018/19 Schools Block of the DSG. Officers explained that this was useful in that it showed that there were still big gaps between the funding level of the top, middle and lowest funded authorities. This clearly demonstrated that fair funding had not been achieved; attributed in part to the slow transition to the full implementation of the NFF.
5.8 The Forum noted that the announced Schools Block funding has been adjusted for the previously agreed de-delegation amounts, set out in the report, and the retention of £0.966M for the Schools Growth Fund, to arrive at a total for inclusion in the Authority Proforma Tool for delegation to schools in 2018/19 of £347.459M.
5.9 The Forum recommended Council agree the revised 2018/19 formula as set out at Annex B to the report for submission to the ESFA.
5.10 The Forum was informed that the total for the Early Years Block for 2018/19 was £33.186M. This represented an increase in funding of £3.126M relating to the full year effect of the additional 15 hours entitlement for eligible working parents, which commenced September 2017.
5.11 Gwyneth Keen and Amanda Horniman, the Forum’s Early Years Providers representatives, asked for assurances that the quality supplement would be de-delegated to support Early Years providers. Tim Browne, Head of Education, explained that the Early Years Team was being restructured, with service provision all being brought together in one location. The supplement would go towards funding the Early Years Team to deliver support and advice to providers. He would be meeting with the Head of Education, Outcomes and Intervention, to agree a basis for the Council being accountable to the funding. He added that more information would be available shortly, and providers would be updated at the next Provider Forum.
5.12 The Forum recommended Council agree:
Ø To set the target for Early Years central costs at the maximum level (5% in 2018/19).
Ø To the hourly rates for 2, 3, and 4-year olds to remain at the same level as 2017/18.
Ø To the quality supplement (£0.02 per hour) being de-delegated to the Local Authority to enable all providers to have access to advice and information on quality standards.
5.13 Officers explained that following an update in the Education and Skills Funding Agency Operational Guide on redetermination of budgets where pupils had been excluded, there would be a change in the way Gloucestershire dealt with changes and transfers of funds relating to permanently excluded pupils. Taking effect from 1 April 2018, the change meant that any calculations relating to the funding transfers for permanently excluded pupils would only relate to the financial year in which the pupil was excluded. Members of the Forum expressed concern that funding transfers to schools taking in excluded pupils would only relate to the proportion of the financial year remaining, so from the official date of exclusion to the 31 March. The Lead Commissioner for Education, Strategy and Development, informed members that he would be writing to the DfE regarding exclusion funding and he agreed to convey the Forum’s concerns.
ACTION: Stewart King