Agenda item

High Needs Funding Allocations

Report of the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the report of the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education in relation to High Needs Funding Allocations.  The report set out that Sefton High Needs Block - Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) funding closed with a financial deficit of £8.2m at the end of 2020/21 and that it was estimated to overspend by more than £1.8m in 2021/22 increasing the overall deficit to more than £10m at the end of 2021/22

 

The report detailed that the Government had changed the financial rules regarding the treatment of any financial deficit on the HN (DSG) Block in 2020/21 making it no longer possible for the Council to offset any DSG deficit against Council Reserves and so reducing the financial risk to the Council’s current Medium Term Financial Plan. The report stated that, the continued increase in demand for High Needs support and the anticipated increase to the deficit on the HN Block over the next few years was still of serious concern as there was no clarity from the Government over how future / accumulated  DSG deficits would be resolved.

 

The report further set out that the current funding model within the council that was used to support High Needs placements had not been reviewed and placement costs had not been uplifted since 2013/14. The financial forecasts for the 5 in-house Special Schools indicated that they will all face significant financial hardship over the next three years unless the existing funding values were increased. This would lead to Special Schools having to make significant financial savings in spending commitments reducing the number of places they could provide for children with SEND which in turn would mean more reliance in expensive Out of Borough placements for children increasing the cost pressures facing the High Needs Block further.

 

The report set out that through the current High Needs review, a key feature was to develop a new funding model for HN placements that was transparent, right-sized Special School budgets and provided stability for in-house placements. The new funding model had been produced in order that it could  address the key actions required within the review however the cost of implementing the new funding model would increase the projected High Needs Block deficit by up to £2m per annum.

 

 

Decision Made:      That the report be noted and referred to Council for approval.

 

Reasons for the Decisions:

 

Ensure the stability of existing / new in-house placements and support for SEND Children

Provide transparency over the level of funding allocated to SEND placements

Reduce requirements to use more expensive Out of Borough placements for SEND Children

Provide clarity on the financial position facing the council and the proposed approach that the council will take in order that members can make informed decisions and the financial sustainability of the council is maintained

 

 

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected:

 

Retain the status quo and continue to fund placement costs to Special Schools and other SEND Resource Units at existing levels. However, unless funding levels are increased, all Sefton Special Schools will be required to make significant budget savings which will impact on the number of SEN children they can support and mean an increase in Out of Borough placements and higher placement costs.

 

 

 

Supporting documents: