More schools run by Havering council struggled financially in 2022-23 compared to the previous year, according to a new report. 

A School’s Funding Forum that took place yesterday (June 15) suggested that 15 schools in the borough had a budget deficit by the end of 2022-23. This number stood at nine in 2021-22.

Of these, five schools have had a deficit for more than five years, the report said, while three have had a deficit for just about five years.

The report added: “These (numbers) are however slightly below the figure for 2019-2020 before the pandemic which eased the budget pressures for some schools."

Even among the schools that did not have a deficit, 11 reportedly had a surplus between 5-10%. This number was slightly higher in 2020-21 when 15 schools had this amount of balance.

The report said that schools “continue to face costs pressures unprecedented since the delegation of funding to schools in 1990”.

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A lot of the pressure, it added, has been on teacher’s pay and the energy costs. But data from the council suggested that school budgets have also been impacted by an increase in cost of services and resources.

The council had a fixed rate tariff for energy prices between April 2023 and March 2024 to protect it from price fluctuations. But these fixed rates for 2023-24 have gone up by 130% for electricity and 150% for gas.

The report said: “This contradicts the DfE assertion that schools are benefitting from falling energy costs."

Support staff salaries, however, was named as the “largest cost pressure” for many schools and early years providers.

It added: “This is the result of pay rises and also for many schools the need to engage additional staff to support pupils with high needs.”

To ease some of these pressures, the Department for Education had introduced a “schools supplementary grant” for primary and secondary schools for 2022-23.

For the coming year, the 2022 autumn statement by the DfE had announced that the core school budget would be increased by an additional £2 billion.

The report said that academies will receive extra funding for a 17-month period from April 2023 to August 2024.

It added: “The local authority will be in discussion with both LA maintained schools with balances above 10% and also those that are unable to set a balanced budget in 2023-24.”