It’s A Risky Business – But You Can Manage It

This week it’s not deadlines we draw your attention to but some of the bigger questions about the risks schools face and whether you are in a position to respond to these.

Budget Forecasts

Schools and academies should now be aware of the funds they will receive in the next financial year; whether this is August to July or April to March. As we have explained in earlier blogs, it is important when planning for the next period that you consider what will happen the following year. Can you sustain your budget decisions for 2015/2016 in 2016/2017?

Schools Business Services can help you with your 2, 3 or even 5 year budget forecasts. Call us on 0845 300 8179

The new government will set the agenda for education when it is formed in 2 months time, but there is clearly a direction of travel that will inform your budget forecast.

What Can We Be Certain Of?

Whilst the ‘official campaigning’ period has yet to start for the general election, various policy groups on the right, left and in the centre are publishing their manifestos. Whilst we cannot be certain what lies ahead for schools and academies, there are a few areas common in what has come out so far.

School Business Managers will have an important role to play in supporting their schools as:

  • Money from the government is unlikely to increase – particularly in real terms
  • Cost pressures will grow – particularly from national insurance and pension changes
  • Collaboration between schools is likely to be a necessity to improve value for money
  • The direct accountability of all schools, whether LA maintained or academy, will increase
  • Teacher, governor and business manager standards and competencies will come under scrutiny.

Not For The Back Burner!

A few items in recent weeks have caught my eye – these are definitely not for the back burner.

  • The EFA continues to publish reports on Academy Trusts it has investigated, where issues relating to conflicts of interest have been found. It is important that when making declarations of interest that consideration is given to family members, who may be working in school or who have interests that might intersect with school’s interests. It is equally important that those making decisions on employment or procurement have access to the declarations of business interest so that they can avoid acting outside the Trust’s Articles of Association.
  • In helping to set up Local Government Pension Arrangements for a new Academy, my attention was brought to the risk that Academies may have should an employee be offered ill health retirement. Whilst the circumstances that might give rise to the offer of early retirement through ill health are rarely within the control of the employer, providing a pension earlier than planned can be costly. A cost that the Academy is likely to be liable for. The Department for Communities and Local Government have advised that some Local Authority LGPS Administrators are now offering small employers, like Academies, schemes that help to insure against this risk. If you are in any doubt what’s on offer to you, speak to your LGPS.
  • Those new Academies that did not complete an Accounts Return for the period to 31 August 2014 (submitted to the EFA in January) will shortly have to complete a March Accounts Return for the period to 31 March 2015. Returns must be submitted to the EFA by 30 June 2015.

SBS provides expert advice on all aspects of education finance, from service desk support to complete financial management. Learn more about how we can help your school.

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