Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
The main fund for local authority-run secondary schools in Leeds is facing a financial deficit of more than £5m this year, according to documents published by Leeds City Council.
The paper, set to go before the authority’s schools forum next week, adds that if no action is taken, the dedicated schools grant (DSG) would overspend at a rate of between £6.8m and £8.1m every year until 2027.
It added that most of the overspend came from the high needs block of school places, and that its funding deficit by the end of the 2021/22 municipal year is likely to be just under £5.5m.
This includes an overspend of £1.839m in the current year, as well as a deficit of more than £3m brought forward from 2020/21. This will be offset slightly by use of cash reserves.
The DSG only pertains to LEA-controlled schools. Academies, which are not run by councils, are unaffected by the funding.
A report stated:
”Dedicated Schools Grant income due is £2,365,000 less than budgeted.
“However, the majority of this is due to the conversion of North West SILC into two special academies where DSG due to local authorities is reduced to allow place funding to be paid to academies directly.
“This is offset by a reduced cost in the expenditure incurred on SILC and Resourced Provision place funding. It is possible there may still be some very minor changes to the income received.”
It added that there was also a number of under-spends, particularly at post-16 education where there is a “much lower number of (special educational needs) students than expected”.
Another report, looking into the fund’s medium-term financial strategy, stated: “Over the five year period 2022/23 – 2026/27 the DSG is projected to overspend at a rate of between £6.8m and £8.1m per year if no action is taken.
“The majority of the overspend is on the high needs block and the council is currently reviewing the options available for managing this as required by the Department for Education.”
Both reports will be discussed by Leeds City Council’s schools forum at a meeting on Thursday, October 7.