To consider a report from the Executive Director – People (copy enclosed)
Cabinet members considered a report from the Executive Director – People which set out the current arrangements for school funding and updated members on the outcome of a recent consultation with schools.
A National Funding Formula (NFF) was introduced for schools from 2018/19 and as in previous years it would continue to be ‘soft’ year in 2022/23 giving local authorities flexibility in applying the NFF.
In 2019, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a three-year school funding settlement for 2020/21 to 2022/23. This outlined a national increase in school budgets of £14.5bn over 3 years compared to 2019/20 levels resulting in increases of £2.6bn in 2020/21, £4.8bn in 2021/22 and £7.1bn in 2022/23. With £4.8bn already having been allocated by 2021/22 an additional £2.3bn had been allocated in 2022/23. Of this, £780m was being directed to the High Needs Block.
In the Autumn 2021 Spending Review the government announced additional funding of £4.7bn by 2024/25 for the core schools budget. This included a further £1.6bn for schools in 2022/23 on top of what had already been announced in recognition of budget pressures due to national insurance increases, high needs and responding to COVID19. The split of this funding at a local level had not yet been announced.
Local Authorities are obliged to consult their local schools and Schools Forum on an annual basis regarding changes to school funding arrangements and whether to continue to adopt the NFF. Cumbria had adopted the NFF each year since 2018/19.
In addition to deciding whether to adopt the NFF for schools or to apply a locally determined formula, Local Authorities also had discretion over whether to transfer up to 0.5% of funding from the Schools Block into other blocks with the agreement of Schools Forum. Last year, after allocating the NFF in full a transfer of 0.5% equating to £1.558m was agreed. After allocating the budget on this basis, and after taking into account the growth budget, £0.553m was leftover which was allocated to schools through increasing the basic per pupil amount. Cabinet was statutorily responsible for deciding on a formula through which funding was allocated to schools.
Following a consultation with all Cumbrian schools affected by these proposals, Cumbria Schools Forum at its meeting on 22 November 2021, had recommended to Cabinet that the National Funding Formula was implemented in full from April 2022 for the 2022/23 financial year and, after taking into account the growth fund budget, any residual balance up to a maximum of 0.5% of funding is to be transferred from the Schools Block into the High Needs block with any balance remaining in the Schools block after the transfer of a maximum of 0.5% to be allocated to schools through the school funding formula.
Cabinet Members asked for an additional recommendation to be agreed to allow for any additional money to be allocated, if required.
(1) Cabinet approve the recommendation of the Cumbria Schools Forum to allocate funding to schools using the National Funding Formula in 2022/23 and, after taking into account the growth fund budget, any residual balance up to a maximum of 0.5% to be transferred from the Schools Block into the High Needs block and any balance remaining in the Schools block after transfer of a maximum of 0.5% should be allocated to schools through the school funding formula;
(2) Cabinet agree that authority for the allocation of any additional funding received for 2022/23 be delegated to the Executive Director – People in consultation with the Leader, Deputy Leader and the Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning.