Agenda item

DSG Overspend Update


JD noted that he was concerned that this could be a complex matter, with a danger of becoming a circular conversation and suggested that Schools Forum commission a working party to look at this issue. TM advised that the LA are proactively managing the budget. There are significantly more children with high needs and EHCP’s and there is an additional cost of independent places. JD confirmed that Schools Forum acknowledge and value the transparency with the LA and is keen to find a way of working to a tightly defined remit.


NP referred to the paper and reported that the cumulative DSG overspend at the end of 2019-2020 is £7.2M that includes the High Needs pressure brought forward of £1.4M. Southampton LA and LA’s nationally have seen an increasing demand for High Needs support with higher levels of complex cases presenting. The DGS variance is 3.98% with a three year recovery plan that NP, TM and DW are working on. The 1% recovery outlined in the DFE guidance due at the end of June 2020 has been deferred until later in the year. Some of this recovery will be helped by the 17% increase in the High Needs allocation for 2020-2021 equating to £5M.


TM advised that they were taking a deep dive to look into all High Needs and recommended a 0.5% block transfer from the schools to High Needs in the next academic year.  There would be a robust understanding of the LA’s position and what actions are in place to mitigate in future. JD acknowledged that there may well be a case for a block transfer to High Needs and suggested that the working group had representatives from the primary sector, secondary sector and SCC. With an aim to have clear recommendations during the autumn term and to ensure that any potentially transferred money would be well spent and accounted for.


SP accepted that the High Needs pressures are a national problem although was concerned that there has been an unexpected increase to £7.2M and as a result the deficit will increase in the next academic year. SP requested that the schools were sent some meaningful financial information very soon as this figure could continue to increase. In response to the £6M increase TM advised that there has been a progressive increase in the number of children with needs. In previous years LA were able to put forward money towards reducing the deficit however, the LA have now run out of funds. Whilst the spend is big, there has been an increase in the number of learners in maintained schools and Academy schools, if this had not been the case, the position could have been significantly worse. The increase in deficit is in proportion to the increase in children. TM advised that government reported that Southampton LA needs £5 million for special needs and this incurred an overdraft. Schools Forum is aware that it has been needed for a period of time. JD noted that the discussion highlights the rationale for the working group and suggested devising a good set of questions for the meeting.


RH requested support from Cllr M as this is an issue for all Local Authorities of all political persuasions and it needs to be addressed on a national political front. This is a situation that goes on year on year and needs to be dealt with politically.

Cllr M assured that she will take it back and talk to Cllr Paffey and they will write to local government association.


SP advised that the special needs schools have not seen an increase in funding per pupil for a number of years unlike mainstream schools. The LA have been working really hard to ensure provision of out of area placements are coming back into the area. However, the special schools need to be financed properly to support this. SP acknowledged that it is a national issue, there is a need to look forward and try to do something as the government are not putting in money where it is required.


Task and finish working group

·  Maria Smyth

·  Sean Preston

·  Tammy Marks

·  Nick Persson

·  ACTION: Amanda Talbot Jones to find a representative from the primary schools- nominations to JD by 10th July

·  ACTION: Harry Kutty to find a representative from the secondary schools- nominations to JD by 10th July