The implementation of the new national funding formula has been pushed back to 2018-19, Justine Greening has announced.
The new education secretary has confirmed today that the government is no longer intending to put the policy in place in 2017-18, despite claims from ministers as recently as Tuesday that they remained committed to the original timeframe.
For the 2017-18 academic year, schools will still be funded through the local formula set by their local authority.
But councils have been reassured that they won’t see a reduction in the schools or high needs block of the dedicated schools grant next year, and that the current minimum funding guarantee for schools will be retained in 2017-18.
Greening said she would not respond to the first stage of the consultation on the formula until the autumn, and that a second consultation on the proposed detail of the policy would be launched later in the year.
In a written statement to parliament, Greening said the first stage of the consultation on plans to address concerns about the fairness of school funding had shown a “strong sense” that the policy represents a “once in a generation opportunity for an historic change”, and said the government “must get it right”.
“Given the importance of consulting widely and fully with the sector and getting implementation right, the new system will apply from 2018-19,” Greening said, adding that she understood the need for councils to have “sufficient information” to plan their budgets for 2017.
“In that context, I am confirming that in 2017-18 no local authority will see a reduction from their 2016-17 funding (adjusted to reflect authorities’ most recent spending patterns) on the schools block of the dedicated schools grant (per pupil funding) or the high needs block (cash amount).
“As usual, we will apply an uplift for high needs later in the year. I am also publishing today detailed funding tables so that authorities can see exactly how this funding has been calculated.”
Greening said final allocations for schools and high needs blocks would follow in December “on the basis of pupil numbers recorded in the October census”.
She added: “I am also confirming that, for 2017-18, we will retain the current minimum funding guarantee for schools, so that no school can face a funding reduction of more than 1.5 per cent per pupil next year in what it receives through the local authority funding formula.
“To ensure that local authorities can start planning their budgets for next year with certainty, I do not intend to proceed, for 2017-18, with proposals to create a new central schools block, allow local flexibility on the minimum funding guarantee or to ring-fence the schools block within the dedicated schools grant.
“These will be covered, for 2018-19 and beyond, in my response to the first stage consultation in the autumn.”