Statement: The Department for Education’s decision on Kingston Council’s school budget request

The Department for Education (DfE) has agreed to support the Council as it develops its recovery plan to bring the overspend of schools’ funding for children with high needs into line.

Kevin Davis, Leader of Kingston Council, said:

“The DfE has agreed to some elements of the council’s budget proposal, which equates to £1.3 million but has also agreed to make an additional £3 million advance of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) in 2018-19, to support the council’s short-term cash position and enable it to set a balanced budget.

“The overspend is largely due to a rise in the number of children with additional needs as well as statutory requirements that have resulted from the Children and Families Act 2014. However, continuing to overspend is not an option. Achieving for Children (AfC) who manage Children’s Services on behalf of the Royal Borough of Kingston has worked closely with the council to put in place a proposed detailed recovery plan to ensure that spend is kept to budget. This has been shared with the DfE during discussions and subject to approval at Adults and Children’s Committee 22 March, we will now have to refine and implement it.

“Moving forward, schools, AfC, and the council need to work together and with parents to find a way to provide the best we can for our children within the funding available. Our recent announcement  of the establishment of an independent Kingston Education Commission will help us in this process over the coming months.”

Notes to editors

  1. The council made a disapplication request to the Department for Education (DfE) for transfers from the schools funding block and from reserves of up to £4.3 million, of which £2.3 million was a transfer from the schools block to the council’s high needs budget. The DfE has approved only a limited movement of up to £1.3m. This will allow schools to still receive additional funding from their national funding formula allocations equivalent to a 1% funding increase, whilst making a significant contribution to high needs costs.

  2. The extra DSG grant will be subject to conditions including council submission of an agreed plan of action to bring spending in line, while continuing to deliver its statutory duties and provide appropriate and effective support to children and young people with high needs.

  3. The council will need to agree key milestone dates for the plan with the DfE no later than the end of May 2018.