(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.