This has been yet another very challenging year from a Financial perspective and whilst each Academy within the Trust managed to achieve a balanced budget for FY2019/2020 it has been necessary to utilise some of the contingency carried over from the previous Financial Year to maintain the Academy Trust outputs. Although the planned income for FY19/20 was £6.614M this was reduced as a result of COVID and its impact on areas such as lettings and nursery attendance. In addition the Trust faced a number of additional and unplanned expenditures due to the need to put in place additional measures to ensure the Academies provided a COVID safe environment for staff and pupils. Although the government did provide some additional funding to support the COVID activities this did not cover all of the additional costs. The result was that the contingency carried over from FY18/19 of £267K was reduced to £69K going into FY20/21.
The outlook for the current financial year indicates there are still a number of challenges. Many of the additional COVID costs will continue although the government have not agreed to provide additional funding this year to compensate. Some additional funding has been provided to support ‘catch-up’ activities for pupils who have fallen behind due to the COVID disruptions although it is challenging to procure the resources that can be effectively deployed to assist pupils needing focused ‘catch-up’ support. The government has announced the provision of additional funding for schools but it is not clear how much this will be or if it will be available in FY20/21. So the outlook for the Financial Year remains very challenging and may result in the requirement to reduce input costs to ensure balanced budgets are achieved across the Trust.
A number of Business Risks have been identified that have the potential to impact on the Trust’s financial position. The primary ones are:
- Impact of COVID
- Government not willing to fund additional costs due to COVID
- Loss of income from traded services and nursery attendance.
- Adjustment of funded Pupil Numbers at Castle Mead resulting from estimates rather than actuals
- The need to resolve the maximum number of pupils River Mead can take which is inconsistent with the resources available.
- Additional Costs of supporting the number of children with High Needs in the Resource Centres
- The need to cover the cost of Career Breaks
Despite all the Financial challenges during FY19/20 the Trust has still been able to achieve a couple of the capital projects that are outstanding. These were:
- Refurbishment of the Heating system at The Mead which was enabled through CIF funding. This work will both improve the heating throughout the Academy and also improve efficiency so reducing costs.
- Remodelling of the Lobby at River Mead to improve the circulation of children around the Academy and improve the safeguarding environment.
Significant staffing/cost reductions in each school were made to achieve a balanced budget for 2019/20. Increase of Resource base numbers in Castle Mead and River Mead. Even so, significant use of reserves was required.
Overall budget 2019/20
Balance B/F £267335
Planned Income £6614323
Planned expenditure £6812565
Planned contingency £69093