West Berkshire Council

Agenda item

Early Years Block Budget 2020/21 (Avril Allenby)

Minutes:

Avril Allenby introduced the report that set out the proposal for the Early Years Budget (EYB), which was based upon the recommendations of the Early Years Funding Group.

Avril Allenby stated that the EYB was particularly difficult to predict. She reported that there was a moveable set of criteria against a number of changing factors including increased funding for vulnerable two years olds; greater take up of the Pupil Premium Grant and increased take up by parents of free hours, including the increased entitlement to 30 hours.

There was a Quality Supplement for settings with the highest qualified staff and over half of the free hours being claimed were within these settings. The report was requesting more time for the Early Years Funding Group to meet and build a budget that was fit for purpose.

Ian Pearson explained that the Early Years Funding Group met on a regular basis and would be focused on balancing the budget for 2020/21 and producing a plan to recover the deficit. Avril Allenby stressed that it was important to set the rates for providers, as an in-year change to rates would be extremely challenging.

Keith Harvey understood that the Schools’ Forum needed to agree the budget at the current meeting and then a recovery plan for the deficit would be bought at a later stage. Ian Pearson confirmed that this was correct.

Suzanne Taylor commented that the EYB was an extremely changing budget. All providers were likely to face cuts to their budgets and this could have a huge impact. There was no way to predict how many children would be joining early year’s settings on a termly basis or how many parents would choose to take up the 30 free hours. It had been expected that the EYB would end 2018/19 in credit however, due to fluctuations a deficit had occurred.

Brian Jenkins commented that changes made by Central Government made budgeting even more difficult through allocations being based on 5/12 one year and then 7/12 the next. Also with the increase from 15 to 30 free hours it was impossible to predict accurately what the take up would be. More accurate information would not be received until May 2020, making budgeting an impossible task.

Ian Pearson reported that agreement of the proposed budget would be on the basis that the budget would be balanced for 2021/22 and a deliverable recovery plan would be put in place. Brian Jenkins stated that any recovery plan would need to span over a couple of years to make it viable.

The Chairman invited the Forum to vote on the recommendation under section 2.1 of the report. Brian Jenkins proposed that the Schools’ Forum agreed the 2020/21 budget as detailed in Table Two of the report on page 56. This was seconded by Suzanne Taylor. At the vote the motion was carried.

RESOLVED that:

·         The Schools Forum agreed the EYB for 2020/21.

·         A deliverable deficit recovery plan to be formed by the Early Years Funding Group and reported on to the Schools’ Forum in June 2020.

Supporting documents: