On 7 March 2016, the Government launched its consultation about introducing a national funding formula from 2017 to 2018. The Government complains that the current system is “outdated, inefficient and unfair”. Education and Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah has stated that “the principles of our funding reform are simple: fair; based on pupil needs and characteristics and transparent.” The proposal is for a new national formula with funds to be distributed by Local Authorities for 2 years and then direct to schools from 2019 onwards.
What is clear is that it appears inevitable that there will be winners and losers during the funding reform. Government press releases are giving examples of the current disparities between authorities based on historic factors in the funding formula. The Government has however indicated that the new formula will be phased in with additional funding available to help schools with issues such as restructuring the workforce. It therefore seems clear that redundancies in some schools are highly likely.
While clearly there will be a significant impact on individual schools the biggest impact will probably be on Local Authorities. With a clear policy intent to increase with the number of academies the role of Local Authorities will clearly diminish in education. This is likely to require reform of the role of the Schools Forum and will raise questions about the extent to which Local Authorities will be able to retain funds in order to fulfil their remaining statutory obligations particularly in respect of its SEN obligations. Given the current pilot on the First Tier Tribunal having the opportunity to make recommendations in respect of health and care needs, there is a real risk of Local Authorities not having sufficient resources in order to deliver the scale of change envisaged by the policy intent behind the Children and Families Act 2014.
The consultation runs to 17th April 2016 and details can be found here