Issue - meetings

Children's Services - High Needs Block Reduction Strategy

Meeting: 10/12/2019 - Dorset Council - Cabinet (Item 97)

97 Children's Services - High Needs Block Reduction Strategy pdf icon PDF 260 KB

To consider a report of the Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help

Decision:

Decision

 

 (a)      That the short term/immediate need for action to address the High Needs Block overspend, taking into account the impact on children and schools as set out at Section 4.1 of the report of 10 December 2019 be approved;

 

(b)       That the strategic aims and priorities be approved.

(c)        That officers be instructed to undertake further forensic examination of opportunities to meet the strategic aims including:-

·         breakdown of spending and projected savings;

·         more detailed modelling of impact on individual & groups of children and Schools

As set out in Sections 1.4, 1.5 , 1.6 and Section 4.2 of the report of 10 December 2019;

 

(d)       That in the light of the detrimental effect on individual school budgets, Members agreed not to pursue a block transfer of funds from the schools block to the high needs block for the next 3 years.

These relate to the financial years of 21/22, 22/23, 23/24. (as set out in Section 4.2 of the report of 10 December 2019)

Reason for the Decision

Given the value of annual and accumulated deficit failure to address these will result in a significant future pressure. In the meantime, the deficit remains on the council balance sheet, subject to DfE funding rules.

 

It is essential to balance the provision for children with SEND with the cumulative demand for school budgets to balance.

 

In the particular case of a block funding transfer from school budgets to the high needs block; this lessens the ability of schools to operate inclusively and presents additional challenges to their budgets which are already amongst the lowest funded in the country. An inclusive mainstream provision for children is required as a condition necessary to achieve high needs overspend reduction. To reduce funding to mainstream schools prevents them from being able to deliver this element of the overall strategy.

 

 

Minutes:

Cabinet considered a report detailing the financial pressures faced by the Council and local schools in providing services to children with additional needs including Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) through its nationally allocated High Needs Block (HNB) funding. The report set out strategic aims for the next 5 years in order to address these pressures.

 

Members were advised that the High Needs funding was one of the four funding blocks within the Dedicated Schools grant (DSG) for the Council.  The vision for the strategy was to reduce the overspend on the HNB budget by meeting the needs of Children and Young People (CYP) at the earliest opportunity, with the right interventions(s).

 

The Portfolio Holder also set out the aims of the strategy which included ensuring there was clear accountability for partners in SEND provision and that there was consistent support to CYP with additional needs, including SEND.

 

In response to questions about  meeting the needs of CYP with SEND provision within local colleges, the Corporate Director for Education & Learning confirmed that the colleges in question,  had expressed interest in having a conversation regarding meeting future the need in this area.

 

Overall members welcomed this comprehensive report and its recommendations.

 

Decision

(a)       That the short term/immediate need for action to address the High Needs Block overspend, taking into account the impact on children and schools as set out at Section 4.1 of the report of 10 December 2019 be approved;

(b)       That the strategic aims and priorities be approved.

(c)        That officers be instructed to undertake further forensic examination of opportunities to meet the strategic aims including:-

·         breakdown of spending and projected savings;

·         more detailed modelling of impact on individual & groups of children and Schools

As set out in Sections 1.4, 1.5 , 1.6 and Section 4.2 of the report of 10 December 2019;

(d)       That in the light of the detrimental effect on individual school budgets, Members agreed not to pursue a block transfer of funds from the schools block to the high needs block for the next 3 years.

 

These are the financial years of 21/22, 22/23, 23/24. (as set out in Section 4.2 of the report of 10 December 2019)

 

Reason for the Decision

Given the value of annual and accumulated deficit failure to address these will result in a significant future pressure. In the meantime, the deficit remains on the council balance sheet, subject to DfE funding rules.

 

It is essential to balance the provision for children with SEND with the cumulative demand for school budgets to balance.

 

In the particular case of a block funding transfer from school budgets to the high needs block; this lessens the ability of schools to operate inclusively and presents additional challenges to their budgets which are already amongst the lowest funded in the country. An inclusive mainstream provision for children is required as a condition necessary to achieve high needs overspend reduction.

 

To reduce funding to mainstream schools prevents them from being able to deliver this element of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97