What you need to know
The budget of a school is delegated to the Governing Body and it is their responsibility to approve any Financial Plan that is submitted to the Local Authority (LA). This can be done retrospectively as it is not always possible to schedule a full GB meeting before the deadline for ABL submission. Usually, the responsibility of preparing the plan is further delegated to the Headteacher and Finance Staff at the school. If required, the school can call on support from the LA in the preparation of the Plan. The LA is required to issue a budget by the end of February each year for the following financial year, which begins on 1 April.
The school are required to submit a Financial Plan to the LA by the deadline published each year in the End of Year Timetable.
In addition to a Final Budget, which is due in May, a provisional budget is now required from Schools in the Spring Term (date of submission will be published in the End of Year Timetable). This will be based on the budget allocation issued by the LA early in the Spring Term.
Budgets are also referred to as a Financial Plan (as per monthly summary description) and Annual Budget Listing (ABL as per FMS description) - they all mean the same.
A Salary Modeller tool for your school is available to purchase from County to assist with budget setting. There is a charge for the tool which will be reviewed annually, but the charge can be deducted against the finance package, if purchased.
Support for the Salary Modeller Tool is available from the Schools Funding and Accountancy Support Team on 01296 382222 option 5 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What you Need to Do
- Using the modeller (or your monthly summary report if you have not purchased the modeller), prepare your outturn for the current financial year – we are no longer expecting a Q3 forecast submission form schools.
- Prepare a budget in school (we suggest that you use the Salary Modeller that is available to purchase from the LA).
- The salary budgets should be split between the main pay, national insurance and pension ledger codes. Using the modeller will do this for you.
- Ensure that you use the correct figures for the School Budget Share (GL Code 992335) – this will be available for schools before the provisional budget submission deadline
- For the balance brought forward for Revenue (GL 992408 deficit or GL 992430 surplus), Community (GL 992425 deficit and GL 992429 surplus), Capital GL 992428 and Devolved Formula Capital Grant (GL 992422 deficit and GL 992426 surplus), use the corresponding outturn figure from your modelling – the modeller will populate these GL codes for you.
- Ensure that each of the four sections of the budget (Revenue, Community, Capital and DFCG) balance, and that the overall total balances.
- There is no need to load the provisional budget on FMS at this stage. There is also no need for the provisional budget to be approved by the Full Governing Body (FGB) – it is not acceptable to delay the submission of the budget in order for the FGB to approve it.
- If you are using the Salary Modeller Tool, we require the budget submission page and the narrative page to be submitted to us by the deadline via SupportWorks – please attach both parts to the same call. If you have chosen not to purchase the tool, a template will be sent for you to complete and return. In addition, we require a Budget Checklist to be completed and signed by the School to ensure that all areas are considered when setting the budget. This should be attached to the same call.
- Using the provisional budget, substitute the estimated School Budget Share and brought forward figures with those that have been confirmed by the LA.
- Rework the provisional budget, ensuring that you take into account any known changes in the schools circumstances (e.g. staffing, pupil numbers, SEN support, other grants, etc.)
- Load the agreed budget onto FMS.
- This budget will need to be approved by the full Governing Body but can be done retrospectively. The budget must be submitted by the deadline, and if necessary can be amended if the Governing Body make changes to the budget submitted.
- Once loaded, create a report from FMS – Reports/Budget Maintenance/Annual Budget Listing. Select Summary Code Level and create a tsv (tab separated values) file. Save to your desktop (see link below).
- Open the tsv file in excel, and copy and paste the contents of the 8 columns from line 2, into the schools file tab on the ABL checker
- The budget is now a Revised ABL, as the provisional budget was loaded in to SAP, and it is therefore important for schools to use the correct version of the ABL checker which will have your provisional budget loaded into it already. The ABL checker will be issued to schools via AnyComms
- Go to the Summary tab on the ABL checker and check for errors. If no errors, save the file and submit to the Finance Service Desk using the portal
- Use the checker to identify any errors and correct on FMS before downloading the tsv file into the checker again. Once error free, the file can be sent to the LA.
- Please see link to ABL checker-additional guidelines on how to import ABL data from FMS