School Budget Planning

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By Nicola Evans
on 10 March, 2017

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Budget Planning for Maintained Schools

Preparation and completion of budget planning before submission to governors for discussion/approval will soon begin. Once preliminary closedown has been completed the carry forward figures can be entered to provide an accurate starting point to this process.

School Budget Planning Priorities

The initial priority is to look at the current year and as far as possible accurately identify/forecast income and expenditure. We use HCSS budgeting software to input the indicative budget provided by the local authority, plan for additional income e. g. catering, review staffing and update expenditure lines with anticipated costs. Where annual agreements i.e. SLAs have been signed, this can be done accurately but some expenditure is indicative and may need to be reviewed/adjusted later in the year.

Headteachers and principals will be reviewing their schools’ development plans and may want to prepare and input a wish list of plans they would like to funded during the year, e.g. purchase of equipment or the implementation of interventions, to allow us to identify/review affordability. For some schools this may mean that plans need to be staged over a number of years.

Some schools will be investing in large capital projects; making improvements to school buildings to ensure they are fit for purpose going forward, or upgrading ICT equipment in line with the learning needs of their pupils. Others, whose budgets are tighter or whose income has seen a reduction this year, will be entering more challenging times where difficult decisions are being taken to protect the sustainability of the school in future years.

All school leaders and governors will be looking ahead at least three years to see whether their models/spend/structures are sustainable longer term. All schools have to plan ahead in this way as future year income is expected to decrease, in addition to costs increasing year on year due to many factors including inflationary increases in services and ever-increasing salary/pension costs. It may be that a school with a healthy brought forward surplus this year may still have to look at restructuring to some extent in future years.

Deficit Recovery Action Planning

Some schools have already identified potential deficits in their budgets for 2017/18 and will be preparing recovery plans and applying to the treasurer for 0% interest loans to support their budget. Be mindful that these applications can take up to six months to complete before any cash is transferred into your account and this will have to be considered during your budget planning due to potential cashflow implications. Repayment plans (once agreed with the treasurer) will also need to be factored into future years to ensure affordability and that the funds are committed for those years.

Our experienced team offer support throughout the year with the various demands on your school finances. To find out how we can assist your school, email the School Finance team or call 0844 967 1111.

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