To provide an opportunity to pose questions to Cabinet Members in line with Standing Orders.
No more than 10 minutes will be allocated at the Council meeting for questions to each Cabinet Member.
Members must submit their proposed questions in writing in advance in accordance with Standing Orders. If members are unable to ask their question orally within the allocated time, remaining questions will be answered in writing. The question and response will be appended to the minutes.
Questions will be posed to Cabinet Members in the following order:
i. Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Services
ii. Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
iii. Cabinet Member for Social Services
iv. Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development
v. Cabinet Member for Community and Resources
vi. Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member Assets
vii. Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation
viii. Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure
For information: A digest of recent decision schedules issued by Cabinet, Cabinet Members and Minutes of recent meetings of Committees has been circulated electronically to all Members of the Council.
Councillor Joan Watkins put the following question to the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills.
Is there a disparity between funding for schools provided to Councils across Wales from the Welsh government
All Councils’ total funding is made up of (i) a share of the total Revenue Support Grant (RSG) which is determined by Welsh Government (WG) and (ii) Council Tax which is determined locally.
So each Council receives a proportion of the available RSG set out by WG, based on a complex methodology and many different data-sets such as number of pupils by pupil age, number of free school meals and the sparsity of the region. As you can see pupil numbers only form part of the calculation. As no two Local Authorities and no two schools are the same therefore funding will not be the same.
How is the calculation for the process formulated and where does Newport sit on the scale across the whole of Wales?
The formula based methodology is driven by a needs based assessment which is applied consistently across Wales and utilises, for the schools’ element, additional to pupil number data. All Councils are treated equally but use of various datasets point to different ‘measured needs’ such as pupil ages, sparsity, number of free school meals. Therefore the needs between Councils differ and therefore funding support.
The WG RSG distribution process is based on measuring a Council’s ‘need to spend’ driven by 52 relevant data-sets across 15 service blocks, with school’s being one. These are applied against the funding available and provides the distribution to each Council. The process, including the data-sets used are reviewed regularly by Welsh Government and Local Government officials and data is updated annually.
The funding that is passported onto service areas (including schools) is a local decision for Council based on their own spending priorities, including specifically, the availability of funding coming from their own decisions on council tax.
If so how much per pupil does Newport receive as opposed to other cities like Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham?
Each Local Authority sets a school funding formula which must be based around a prescribe range of factors set by WG including funding for energy costs and the number of pupils within a school. This funding is agreed by the local authorities Schools Forum comprised of Head teachers, Governors and School Business Managers
If disparity exists what is this Council doing about it?
The data used for the funding formula is ambiguous and does not give a clear explanation of how the total schools budget is delegated for specific issues, for example to pupils with Special Educational Needs. If we were to consider the total school budgets given per local Authority you will note that Newport provided approximately £114 million pounds to its 57 schools in 2019/20, including £4068 per pupil but, nonetheless, was ranked in 21st place across Wales. In comparison another local authority which has 100 schools provided £163 million. Proportionately, that demonstrates that Newport is providing more to its schools despite another local authority being ranked higher for pupil funding. As previous mentioned, the data is ambiguous!
Cabinet provided an additional £10 million of funding to schools in this financial year. All school pressures were met for 1920/21 including pay awards, pension and the cost of new and growing schools.
Individual Head teachers and Governing Bodies are responsible for the management of a school budget. Additional support is being provided to Newport schools in a deficit position. A range of work has been undertaken to ensure that schools are using their finances in the best way possible and maximises teaching and learning. This has included curriculum reviews, benchmark comparisons of sickness levels and staffing and the impact of the Pupil Deprivation Grant.
Over the last year there have been a number of schools which have improved their forecast in- year financial position due to this support; Caerleon Comprehensive and Newport High School are two good examples.
It is important to note that only one local authority in Wales had no schools in a deficit position at the end of March 2020. One local authority had 52 schools in a deficit position. This is quite a contrast to Newport’s which has 13 schools in deficit and is working with great strides to return to balanced budgets.
Despite the severe financial situation as a result of years of austerity measures by the UK Government, we will continue to provide all possible support to all our schools, teachers, pupils and governing bodies