Financial support offered to education and early years
The government has put in place a number of funding and financial measures to support organisations – both public and private – during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These are intended to be temporary, timely and targeted, to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption. The guidance provides details regarding payments to supply and other contingent workers and the furloughing of staff who are wholly funded through schools’ private income streams.
Financial support in relation to exceptional costs associated with COVID-19
The government has issued additional guidance (07/04/2020) outlining the financial support which is being offered to schools in relation to exceptional costs associated with Covid-19 for the period March to July 2020. The main elements of the guidance are summarised below but schools should access the full guidance: School funding: exceptional costs associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) for the period March to July 2020 . The guidance applies to all state funded mainstream and special schools and alternative provision.
The funding for exceptional costs will be made available in June 2020 to 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. Schools expecting to add to their reserves (i.e. to have an in-year surplus) for 2020-21 will not be expected to claim the additional funding.
DfE has identified 3 areas where schools are likely to incur additional costs:
- increased premises related costs (including utilities and resources needed to keep the school open, such as hygiene services) associated with keeping schools open during the Easter and/or summer half term holidays, for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, over and above the costs that schools would have faced in other circumstances
- 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 - this covers:
- costs to schools arising before the introduction of the national voucher scheme
- costs where schools are providing free meals to children for whom the national voucher scheme is inappropriate (for example, because there are no participating supermarkets locally or schools are providing meals directly)
- additional cleaning – required due to confirmed or suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, in line with COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements
The guidance states that in exceptional instances schools will be able to make a case for additional funding for extraordinary costs incurred in delivering appropriate support to their pupils through this period that are not covered by this list, and cannot be met by existing budgets, when claims are submitted.
Funding is limited as follows:
- 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
The funding guidance does not cover:
- Additional staffing costs: the guidance states that in order to protect staff wellbeing and to minimise any need for existing staff to work additional hours in order to cover the holiday periods, schools should consider:
- adopting rota systems to cover holidays, and offering staff time off in lieu for this
- approaching the local authority or academy trust to check whether staffing support is available from other institutions
- making appropriate use of their supply budget
- Loss of income, for example lettings income, is not covered in the guidance.
Accessing the funding
Funding will be accessed on the basis of claims up to the stated limit for each type of school. Whilst the claims process will not be designed to be onerous, schools will be expected to be able to evidence the claim in case of audit. This would likely include copies of invoices, appropriate authorisation of spend and evidence that the spend is additional (potentially with comparative data for previous years).
Please see the two questions below on capturing additional costs, including the cost of additional staff over Easter:
Maintained Schools – capturing the costs associated with Covid-19
We are asking that all maintained schools record any additional costs associated with the response to Covid-19 so that we can continue to report to the Corporate Management Team and the DfE on the financial impact of the pandemic. This will include items such as increased staffing costs, loss of income and additional costs of supplies and services.
We have drawn up a template for schools to complete and submit to the Schools Finance Team on a monthly basis. This has been revised on the 9th April following updated government guidance. Please access the revised template and return to firstname.lastname@example.org at the end of each month.
Please ensure you save the template to include your DfE number and the appropriate month in the file title.
Procurement Policy Note 02/20
Supplier relief due to COVID-19
Please see Cabinet Office’s FAQs on Procurement Policy Note 02/20 – Supplier relief
If you have been asked to make relief payments to suppliers under the PPN02/20 relief a variation to the contract setting out the interim payment terms must be completed. It is important that all interventions whether commercial or financial are documented. The Cabinet Office has published a template which can be used. See link below:
Purchase Card use
On the year end timetable schools have been asked not to use their P-cards between 25 March and 6 April to ensure that all transactions are posted in the correct financial year.
In the light of the current circumstances we are now advising that cards can be continued to be used beyond 25 March and we will post as many transactions as we can that relate to this financial year in this year (we are due to do a download after 3 April monthly cut-off date). Please be aware that it is possible that some spend will appear in next year’s accounts.
Buying supermarket vouchers against a Purchase card when the credit limit has been reached
We are able to give a temporary increase to maintained schools that have reached their P Card limit and need to buy FSM vouchers. Schools need to contact Jane Morris or Kathy Howells in the Procure to Pay Team:
Free School Meals scams
Some schools have already reported that parents and carers of children in receipt of free school meals are being targeted by fraudsters. Fraudsters are targeting families, emailing parents and carers with messages such as ‘ If your child is entitled to free school meals send your bank details to the school and they will help with funding while the school is closed’.
The email contains links for the parents to follow if they want to receive the funding – these links are fake. This is a scam.
Please share this information with parents and carers to make them aware of this scam.
Please see below information from the National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN)
School budgets for the coming year with periods of partial or complete closure
Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. That will ensure that they are able to continue to pay their staff, and meet their other regular financial commitments, as we move through these extraordinary times.
Schools will also continue to receive top-up and other high needs funding for pupils with SEND. This will ensure that the employment and payment of staff supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can continue.
Similarly, where schools pay top-up or other funding for pupils attending alternative provision (AP), or pay for other SEND or AP services, we expect these payments to continue so that teachers and other staff can be paid in accordance with their existing employment contracts.
Maintained Schools (non-chequebook) - processing payments if you are unable to scan PACL/Invoice batches from suppliers
We would usually require schools to submit electronic copies of the PACL and related invoices when batches are submitted for payment. We recognise that whilst staff are working remotely this is more difficult if invoices are submitted to schools as paper copies.
In line with government guidance in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic our priority is to pay suppliers as promptly as possible for goods and services that are being delivered. Providers are being advised that we will continue to pay in line with suppliers’ payment terms.
During this time we are implementing the following process:
- Where possible suppliers should be encouraged to submit invoices electronically to save the need to scan copies.
- Schools should submit payment batches as normal but without the invoice back up.
- Payments will be made to suppliers in line with payment terms. Schools can assume that payments will be made unless we contact you with a query and therefore you do not need to follow up in respect of individual payments.
- If there is an error on a payment batch the P2P Team will contact you to resolve it – this may be through you providing an electronic copy of the appropriate invoice if you have it, or by checking the contents of the invoice with you over the phone if you only have a paper copy.
This will enable us to ensure that suppliers are paid promptly and that there are no delays arising from the need to scan and submit invoice copies.
Please maintain copies of the documents so that they can be scanned over to the P2P team at a later date.
If you are unable to follow normal financial procedures for separation of duties
During these exceptional times, if normal financial procedures to ensure segregation of duties cannot be followed, for example separate authorisation of orders and related invoices, all maintained schools must contact the FMS team on 01296 383500 option
How do I find my Government Gateway password?
The Government Gateway user ID and password were set when registering for PAYE online.
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