Agenda item

Education Budget

To receive and review the proposed 2020/21 Education Budget.


The Head of Finance introduced the report which detailed the components of the 2020/21 Budget. The total allocation for Croydon which is regulated by the Department for Education (DfE) was £364.306 million for the four blocks for 2020/2021.


Following the 2020/21 Spending review the Chancellor delivered a statement which was followed in more detail by the Minister for School Standards which confirmed the Governments’ commitment to a £7.1 billion increase in funding for schools by 2022/23. This included £700mil more in 2020/21 to support children and young people with Special Educational Needs, increased Early Years spending by £66mil and £400mil for Further Education.


In 2020/21 Croydon would see an increase of £21.3mil in the level of DSG funding compared to the previous year.


The DfE made a commitment that the introduction of the national funding formula, which has been delayed since 2017, would come into place in 2021/22.


As required, Croydon submitted its five year DSG Recovery Plan. The DfE’s letter of response informed the Council of an increase to the High Needs Block allocation for 2020/21, and that allocations for 2021/22 and 2022/23 were under review. As a result the Council conducted a detailed revision of its previously submitted recovery plan which would be submitted to the High Needs Working Group as well as the Schools Forum later this month.


It was asked what the new funding formula would mean for Croydon. Officers said that it meant that nationally every pupil would receive the same basic funding. The effects of this formula would be different in every Local Authority (LA), and the Council was doing all it could to mitigate any adverse impact of the new formula.


It was commented that whilst the Governments commitments for £7billion increase in funding for schools was welcomed, there was still a concern over the large deficit that has been accumulated by many schools in previous years. In particular, concerns were raised for Primary Schools who it was felt would not receive real term increases.


It was question if the Council would request reinstatement of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (USAC) costs from government, officers responded that the education provision of UASC was covered by the DSG but the budget did not cover social care costs.


It was questioned if the government should be lobbied for reinstatement of the PFI costs of a particular Croydon school and how much of a burden this was on the Council’s Budget. Officers said a benchmarking exercise took place every five years which was due to be revisited in 2021 and costs associated with this particular PFI would be reviewed.  Part of the funding from the DSG covered this cost and the council covered some of the affordability gap.


In response to a Member question on how confident the Council was that place planning for pupils was accurate, officers said that places at schools were allocated on criteria for schools and parental choice. There were often instances of surplus places in schools, pictorial maps of this data was only valid on a day by day basis and data constantly changed. Planning for school places was completed based on figures supplied by the GLA and intelligence gathered on areas of the borough. In the event of identification of lack of places, a contingency plan would be deployed to manage the issue.


It was questioned whether a school could decide not to admit Croydon children. Officers said that a school could not legally made such decision without changing their admissions criteria and for such changes to be made, a legal process including consultation would need to take place.


At the conclusion of this item the Chair thanked the Officers for their attendance at the meeting and their engagement with the Committee and questions.



The Sub-Committee Came to the following Conclusions:



1.    The announcement of the commitment of additional school funding by government was welcomed, there was however concerns as to how this would assist to decrease the deficit of some schools.


2.    Although there has been an increase in Croydon’s funding allocation, there remained a significant gap of per pupil funding in comparison to inner city boroughs some of whose problems are similar to those we see in Croydon.


3.    It was important that the Council maintain clear line of sight of any adverse impact of the national funding formula once it was implemented on the Education Budget.


4.    It was vital that the Council conducted a comprehensive review in 2021 of the PFI costs associated with the Croydon School.



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