Agenda item

(a) Minutes of the Schools Finance Group (SFG), 8 March 2023, attached.

Also available at

Schools Finance Group (SFG) – Education and Families (


(b) Report of the Director of Children and Young People’s Futures and

Director of Finance and Public Value (DEF/23/05) attached.




(a) Finance Update Report


The Forum considered the joint report of the Director of Children and Young People’s Futures and Director of Finance and Public Value (DEF/23/05).


The Report (DEF/23/05) covered:-


-Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Month 10 monitoring;

-DSG Deficit Management Plan;

-High Needs Month 10; and



The month 10 outturn forecast for 2022/23 overspend of the DSG of £41.1 million, associated with the continued demand on High Needs and the growing demand on Special Educational Needs (SEN) placements within the Independent Sector despite creating more places within Devon’s Special Schools. This was an adverse change of £204,000 since month 9 (£564,000 from month 8).


Management Action of £10 million reflected revised savings expected in 2022/23, as per the Safety Valve Intervention Programme submission to the DfE. To date, £4.2 million of Management Actions had been achieved since the start of the summer term.  Whilst a number of LAs had now been accepted into the DfE Safety Valve Intervention Programme, Devon was still awaiting decision. 


£4.6 million of saving was currently identified not to be achieved in this financial year for reasons detailed in the Report. This projected a cumulative DSG deficit to March 2023 of £127.7 million, which was £5.4 million over that included in the DSG Safety Valve. 


A SEND Day was held by Devon’s Senior Leadership Team on 9 February 2023 to understand and clarify the priorities and strategic response to the current SEND challenges, with a Gold Command team set up with initial weekly reporting.


The increasing DSG deficit could have a considerable impact on future education budgets within the DSG as well as the financial sustainability for Devon County Council. Urgent action was still required to reduce the demand on EHCPs and independent placements, requiring all stakeholders to be working in partnership to achieve this.


Members’ discussion included:-


-ongoing concern that despite management actions and savings the deficit continued to grow due to increasing High Needs demands.  Members noted that the Safety Valve plan produced showed continual rise in costs until March 2025, but not at the present levels;


-the need for focus on a more radical approach and the immediacy of finance and SEND actions and communications across the LA and schools working collaboratively (noting also that a regular joint SEND/Finance and Public Value report to DEF had been agreed at minute 87 above to include service plans, finance and sub group involvement);


-welcoming the working with other LAs of High Needs best practice;


-concern that the opportunity for acceptance into the DfE’s Safety Valve programme must not be lost;


-noting that no further detail had yet been received regarding the Chancellor’s budget statement 15 March 2023 on the extension of childcare to families on age and hours, so that the impact on settings already struggling and on Devon’s rates could be considered. 




That month 10 DSG monitoring position as set out in Report (DEF/23/05) sections 1 – 4 be noted, subject to the Forum’s ongoing concerns above.




Director of Finance and Public Value (Adrian Fox)


(b) Schools Finance Group Minutes – 8 March 2023                 


The Forum considered the minutes, including the respective minutes relating to the Finance Update Report noted at (a) above.


Also available at

Schools Finance Group (SFG) – Education and Families (


SFG’s recommendation to move the January 2024 Forum meeting date considered at Dates of Future Meetings minute below, due to the timetables for government funding announcements and Devon’s budget preparation.   SFG’s January date would also move by one week to accommodate this.




that the minutes of the Schools Finance Group (SFG), 8 March be received.




Head of Education (Heidi Watson-Jones) – SFG date change





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