Notes of the Meeting of the School Budget Forum
held at Coed Parc on 18th November 2009
Hilary Anthony, Trevor Guy, Deborah Exton, Judith Tutssel, Councillor Huw
David, Paul Booth, Mrs J Alexander, Mr C Evans, Mr K Maund, Reverend E J
Evans, Colin Evans, Sue Davies, Mr K Dykes, Mr J H Thomas, D Holloway.
Apologies for absence were received from Richard Landy, Councillor Alana
Davies, Janet Smith, Gareth Moss, Sue Davies, Steve O’Callaghan, Chris
2. Notes of the Last Meeting held on 19th June 2009
The notes of the last meeting were agreed to be a true record.
3. Matters Arising
The proposal to equalise broadband charges for schools was agreed.
3 Year Budgets
Financial Regulations are currently being redrafted by WAG. The proposal is that
from April 2011 schools will be given an actual budget for 2011/12 and estimated
budgets for the following 2 years.
Schools can be directed to spend balances in excess of 8% or they will be
clawed back and re-allocated to the Schools Budget in general.
Concern was expressed that the consultation document had been included in the
Directors report, when it was considered to be too important to be included as
part of a large document. Minutes had also stated consultations had been with
the School Budget Forum and this was clarified.
The Director confirmed that the Director’s Report is the main document for
governing bodies and the best way to ensure information is received by all
The consultation deadline has been extended to 14th December.
There have been misunderstandings at school level on the method of delegation
and how budgets can be spent.
4. Building Maintenance, SLA
A paper was distributed on Building Maintenance Services and Mark Evans was
introduced. There is no longer a Headteachers Forum for Building Maintenance,
although there is an SLA in place.
Kenny Dykes commented that the booklet detailing the division of responsibilities
is very good. This had been prepared by Dave Gobey. Many schools do not use
their full delegated repairs and maintenance budget for that purpose. Building
Maintenance settle their bills promptly, then recharge schools. Any disputes
need to be resolved early. Kenny Dykes enquired why Building Maintenance
always seemed to be so expensive, particularly in comparison to other quotes
obtained. Mark Evans confirmed that Building Maintenance cannot always
compete, particularly for small jobs, but costs are comparable. When engaging
outside contractors schools need to be careful with quality, insurance, health and
safety, etc. If the school is the engager, they are responsible. Schools need
permission from the LEA for undertaking certain works. The works undertaken at
Cynffig Comprehensive School by Building Maintenance were very good. The
importance of the asbestos register was stressed. Every school has been on
asbestos awareness training and any non-compliance must be reported. Trevor
Guy confirmed that all school staff need to be aware of the asbestos risk and not
also create a risk. New schools may not have asbestos, but still keep a register,
which should be checked by contractors. Schools had been given a disk to
undertake a fire risk assessment and there is a new Regulations Inspector –
Mark Evans is available to attend any Cluster Group meetings to keep
Headteachers up to date. Richard Landy will be asked to arrange this.
5. Purchasing Cards
A project had been set up with Value Wales (part of WAG) for purchasing cards,
which had already been used in this Authority for Building Maintenance and the
Library Service. Value Wales are also promoting Exchange Wales, including
eSourcing, ePurchasing and eTrading. Etrading for schools allows, electronic
orders to be raised. The Welsh Purchasing card is issued to individuals, but
remains the property of the Authority. The card is issued by Royal Bank of
Scotland. Suppliers are paid in 3-4 days and monthly statements issued for
payment. The card is a charge card not a credit card, with a transaction limit and
monthly limit. There is a Visa or Mastercard option. Most have chosen
Mastercard due to free online management. In Wales, 97 organisations have
Welsh purchasing cards. Cards are being rolled out alongside the e-procurement
project, but approved contractors will still have to be used. Security was
considered. Interest is only chargeable for late payments so payment by Direct
Debit is better. £125m has been spent across Wales since cards were
introduced in 2002. Month end reports will be produced by Accountancy and one
direct debit processed for all schools. Rebates are given on what is spent on
cards, taking into account the total spend across Wales.
6. Draft ESG Report
An executive summary had been circulated – an interesting document (for
information only) detailing what is happening across Wales and any issues for
7. BSF 2010/11
A paper was circulated, detailing the current position. The budget is unknown yet
and all spending plans are on hold. Less funding is likely and concerns had been
raised with Jane Hutt at a GTCW meeting.
There needs to be a commitment to CPD especially with changes such as the
8. Budget 2010/11
The provisional settlement was announced on 13th October. The average
increase across Wales is 2.1% with a floor of 1% after transfers in and out of the
settlement. For Bridgend the increase is 2.6%. The draft budget will be
considered by Cabinet on 1st December and assumes a 4.8% increase in Council
Tax. There are currently no direct cuts on school budgets. There is still a
funding gap of £270k. The final settlement from WAG will be 8 th December.
When the draft budget report is agreed, copies will be sent out for formal
consultation. Views can be presented to Overview and Scrutiny. Job Evaluation
and equal pay are not finalised yet. All Directorates identified savings for CMB,
together with growth. A real growth bid has been submitted for the Formula
9. Arrangements for School Funding Follow up Enquiry – For Information
There had been much previous discussions on funding, but this is the most
10. Any Other Business
VAT Returns – Cheque Book Schools
Some schools are slow in returning their returns, whereas those that meet the
deadlines are being penalised by delayed VAT reimbursements.
Administration Fee – Cheque Book Schools
An administration fee is charged on interest payments. Interest rates have
fallen but the admin charges stay the same. This arrangement will continue.
Headteachers had received an e-mail. The cost will be placed on schools for
these checks which for Porthcawl Comprehensive School could be £15k. Why
do schools have to pay – would funds be delegated? The Authority is moving
to a “vetting and barring” system which reduces the argument for regular CRB
checks. Concern was expressed about portability – staff may have 3 jobs.
Employees only need to register once with LSA. CRB checks may be less
frequent. It was thought that the current system is a bit cumbersome.
11. To Agree a Date for the Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held in February to discuss the Budget 2010/11.