Saturday, 14 January 2023

Brent Council to allocate funds to help qualifying schools with redundancies as they face in-year budget deficits

 Wembley Matters has reported previously on the budgetary difficulties faced by Brent schools as overall funding reduces in real terms and some experience falling pupil numbers, while others that were expanded to cater for more pupils have never filled to capacity.  Add to that inflation and energy costs and governing bodies face hard decisions.  Brent is also moving towards the level of the Government's new National Funding Formula which represents a reduced amount for London boroughs.

A report going to School Forum reveals how many of our schools are facing financial problems and unable to balance their in-year budgets (i.e. current income and outgoings balancing):

The number of Brent schools experiencing difficulties in 2022/23 has increased with 67% projecting an in-year deficit. 23% of these schools plan to use over 50% of reserves to balance their budgets in 2022/23. 

Schools will be forced to restructure their staffing, seeking voluntary redundanies, as staffing this takes up the major part of their expenditure. Brent is proposing to Schools Forum that monies that should be delegated to schools instead be 'de-delegated' back to the authority to allocate to schools in 'exceptional circumstances' tand if they are eligible, to help with rededundancy payments.

 It is therefore proposed to continue to de-delegate funds to support schools in financial difficulty. There is a £0.02 increase in the proposed rate for 2023/24 at £8.53, due to reduced number of pupils, to allocate £0.175m. Schools Forum agreed in January 2022 that if in exceptional circumstances school redundancies are eligible to be funded centrally then these will need to be found from within wider Direct School Grant funding. It was agreed that redundancies should be funded from the Schools Facing Financial Difficulties Fund (SFFDF). However, the budget was not increased to allow for the additional costs from redundancy pay outs.

It is therefore proposed to allocate £0.2m at a rate of £9.73 per pupil for centrally funded redundancies, where schools are eligible for funding. This is based on forecast payments in 2022/23 and the expectation of increased requests in 2023/24.

The report concentrates on the financial issues but of course redundancies will impact on the people concerned who will often be female and ethnic minority support staff on low pay.  The contribution of support staff is often underestimated but they have contributed hugely to recent improvements in school standards, so there will also be an impact on the quality of education.

An additional mainstream schools allocation grant (MSAG) will be made later in the spring which will also help. 

The budgets (minus MSAG) are tabled below. As an aside it reveals very low pupil numbers in the two South Kilburn schools that have been cited in the controversy over the re-location of Islamia Primary School to the Preston ward. Carlton Vale Infants have 52 pupils against a capacity of 230 pupils and The Kilburn Park School Foundation 72 pupils against a capacity of 240. Brent Council expects numbers to increase as the South Kilburn population increases through the new developments.  Islamia Primary has 421 pupils.

Newman Catholic College with 466 pupils is the smallest secondary school, and smaller than many primary schools.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bankruptcy is awaiting Brent and they can't see if for the steam coming off the Witches' Brew.