Some schools could be financially harder hit by than others
Schools that rely on supplementary private income, from sources like nursery and out-of-hours provision, could face a “larger financial impact” from the coronavirus shutdown, a report says.
A Department for Education scheme allows schools to claim up to £75,000 to cover overheads, cleaning and food, but government guidance says “lost self-generated income” is not covered.
Telford and Wrekin Group Accountant Tim Davis adds that council-maintained schools have not been allowed to furlough their staff and have continued to pay them at the normal rate, but grant funding has been maintained throughout the Covid-19 pandemic despite the absence of pupils.
His report was discussed by the borough’s Schools Forum during its remote meeting today.
Mr Davis says some costs, such as catering, have dropped during the closure period, but adds: “Private income, most notably from nursery provision over and above funded hours and from before- and after-school provisions, has been seriously reduced.
“Where the council is the ultimate employer of staff – i.e., most maintained schools – staff have not been allowed to be furloughed. The context of this was the clear expectation from central government that local government should not furlough staff.”
Government guidance to the “exceptional costs” funding says schools can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff members delivering their privately-funded services, but only as a last resort.
“They should, first, look to make the necessary savings from their existing budgets or consider options to redeploy these staff,” it adds.
Mr Davis adds that, even if the scheme were fully available, government rules would not allow employees with two or more jobs to be furloughed from just one.
“For example, a teaching assistant also employed to support before- or after-school provision could not have been furloughed from just the before and after post,” he writes.
The DfE scheme allows schools to claim funding for increased overheads, additional cleaning and free school meal provision for eligible but absent children.
Special schools are entitled to a maximum of £50,000, while mainstream schools’ entitlement rises on a sliding scale from £25,000 for those with 250 or fewer pupils to £75,000 for schools with 1,000 or more.
Mr Davis writes: “The net impact of Covid-19 on school budgets will vary depending upon a school’s particular circumstances.
“In particular, those schools with more significant private income will, potentially, face a larger financial impact than those with a smaller-scale provision.
“It also remains to be seen whether the autumn term will represent a return to relative educational – and, thus, financial – normality for schools.”
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