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UHY Hacker Young | Chartered Accountants
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Funding for exceptional costs associated with COVID-19

07 April 2020

The Department for Education have announced some additional funding support for schools up to the end of the 2019 to 2020 summer term, in recognition of the work they are doing and the additional costs, in some cases, that are being incurred.

Funding will be available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools.

How schools can access funding

Funding will be available to cover costs relating to specific items which are judged as those likely to be necessary to provide appropriate support:

  • increased premises related costs associated with keeping schools open during the Easter and/or summer half term holidays
  • support for free school meals (FSM) for eligible children who are not attending school, where those costs are not covered by the FSM national voucher scheme
  • additional cleaning – required due to confirmed or suspected Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

Note that funding will only be available to those schools that are unable to meet such additional costs from their existing resources, or which they could only meet by drawing down on reserves and undermining their long-term financial sustainability.

The DfE do not expect schools to make a claim against this funding if they are anticipating that they will be able to add to their reserves in the 2020 to 2021 financial year.

The payments will need to be made from existing budgets and reimbursements will follow for costs applied for up to the limits below:

Mainstream schools
250 pupils or fewer £25,000
251 to 500 pupils £30,000
501 to 1000 pupils £50,000
Over 1000 pupils £75,000
Special schools and alternative provision
All schools £50,000

Pupil numbers will be defined by the following data:

  • 2 to 4 year olds – headcount of funded places from January 2020
  • 5 to 16 year olds – headcount from October 2019 census
  • 16 to 19 year olds – pupil numbers from 2019 to 2020 academic year allocations

The process and record keeping

Schools will need to keep appropriate records to support claims:

  • records of all expenditure relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19),
  • the headteacher or school business manager who submits the claim should give due consideration to their financial duties when doing so, including signing their name against any claim
  • we would expect schools to be able to identify this income, and the related expenditure, when reporting their accounts.

The DfE will not ask for detailed information of the individual items on a claim routinely, but naturally and as usual, they reserve the right to ask questions on individual claims or to audit the expenditure and clawback money if claims have not been made in accordance with the guidance.

The limits set out above are expected to be sufficient for most schools, however if any schools face exceptional circumstances and therefore additional costs that are higher than these limits, it will be possible to make a case for increasing the limit when the application is made.

Any academy with a short-term cash flow issue, meaning they are unable to make up-front payments to cover the additional costs due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), should follow the normal process for seeking short-term advances to support their cash flow by contacting the ESFA.

Finally it should be noted that the additional funding is not intended to cover any additional costs relating to changes in SEND provision organised by local authorities for individual children and young people with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

The full guidance can be found here.

If you would like more information on additional funding, please speak to your usual UHY adviser, or contact me directly.