Agenda item

Agenda item

High Needs Block 2018/19 budget and investment proposals


To provide an update on the expected outturn of the High Needs Block budget for 2017/18 and anticipated pressures faced by the block for 2018/19 and a summary of the proposals for the agreed investment in early intervention of the High Needs Block for 2018/18 following a Focus meeting with Headteachers.




The Schools Forum considered an update on the current projected spend against budget for the current financial year for the High Needs Block, the initial projections of the spend for 2018/19 and the proposals regarding the investment of 0.5% into the High Needs Block to support early intervention.


Points and comments included:


1.    The report contained some very helpful scenarios and proposals but none were short term and there were no associated costings.

2.    Further modelling was needed in order for members of the Forum to ratify the proposed recommendations about funding.

3.    In response to the question raised of how the forecast overspend this year was going to be addressed, the Deputy Director for Education and Transformation explained that once the investment and key principles had been agreed, work would take place to cost areas where impact could be made in this and the next financial year and to identify in year indicative savings.

4.    Because of budgetary pressures and having to target certain areas, some of the proposed investments such as clusters might not be possible for all schools. Work undertaken needed to include the recognition that any investment needed to benefit all schools.

5.    Members of the Schools Forum had been made aware the of pressures on the High Needs block at least 12 months ago. At what stage did the Council’s Executive become involved in order to mitigate the shortfall?

6.    In response to concern expressed about some services being decommissioned, the Deputy Director for Education and Transformation explained that the review of current commissioned services being undertaken by the Commissioning Team linked in with the proposed work to try and mitigate the pressure on the High Needs Block.

7.    Areas of work included identifying more innovative ways of the funding services, where the most impact could be made with the funding available and where earlier intervention could take place to prevent needs escalating.

8.    Some representatives felt that family support workers were key in addressing the duplication of some service areas with the same small group of families in terms of the provision of early intervention and signposting. A possible solution could be to set up clusters and share pupil premium funding for the provision of family support workers.

9.    The content of the tables on pages 6 and 7 of report  were not consistent making it difficult to compare the lines of expenditure and figures.

10. In response to the question where would savings be made taking into account that the figures in table on page 7 of the report showed an Indicative Budget of £500,000 for 2018/19 for EHC Plans in comparison to the forecast spend of £561,000, the Interim Head of Service explained that a number of Plans had been underfunded and that some Plans were funded low level pre 16. Forecasting showed that a number of EHC Plans would be ceased in 2018/19.

11. Concern was expressed that the outturn forecast did not include the figures for Individual Schools Budget.

12. Some members of the Forum felt that the recommendation of the transfer of 0.5 per cent of the Schools Block into the High Needs Block in the financial year 2018/19 was in direct contrast to paragraphs 20 and 21 of the High Needs report presented at the Schools Forum meeting on the 29 January, which set out the proposal of allocating approximately half of the investment from the High Needs Block into immediate support to schools that could help to reduce some of the spend areas for 2018/19 and the other half of this investment being held initially, in contingency, given the existing known pressure of the overall block.




1.    the update on the High Needs Block spend for the financial year 2017/18.


2.    the potential pressures and actions to mitigate such pressures for 2018/19 against budget.




1.    to move forward with the proposed investment proposals following the Head teacher review detailed in Appendix A of the report with regular updates provided to the Forum.


2.    that costs for the proposed 0.5% investment would be reported at the June meeting of the Forum.


3.    that the lines of expenditure be aligned in the table indicating the Initial budget for the centrally retained High Needs Block, actual expenditure and forecast expenditure and the table indicating Forecast spend for 2017/18, indicative budget for 2018/19 and projected spend without mitigating action being taken.


4.    that the High Needs Technical Sub Group would meet in April 2018 to discuss the options to take this work forward and priorities.




Supporting documents: