East Renfrewshire schools get Covid money boost from council reserves

By Drew Sandelands

Schools in East Renfrewshire will share £285,000 from the council’s reserves to ease the pressure to make savings over the coming year.

A “higher than usual” amount of money was returned to the council by schools due to the impact of Covid-19 on spending plans.

It will now be distributed to primary and secondary schools to “reduce the burden” after the council set a £1.8m savings target for education.

Schools can retain underspends in reserve under the devolved school management scheme, but if the figure exceeds 2% of a school’s budget, or is not spent within three years, then the excess funding is returned to the council’s reserves.

At the end of the 2021 financial year, the transfer of excess funds to the council’s reserves was £285,000 higher than in the previous year.

Around £880,000 of the £1.8m required savings is set to come from devolved school management (DSM) budgets, controlled by primary and secondary headteachers.

East Renfrewshire Council hopes the £285,000 allocation will help headteachers to manage the savings target.

A council report stated: “As schools are facing an exceptionally challenging year with the impacts of the pandemic in addition to savings targets, it is proposed, on a one-off basis, that the higher than usual excess amount clawed back from DSM budgets at March 31 is returned to education to reduce the savings burden on schools in the current academic year.”

Council leader Tony Buchanan said returning the £285,000 would “assist schools in addressing the budget challenges in the current academic year”.

“We are aware that 2020/21 and the interruption to teaching has had a significant impact, so I think this paper enables schools to have the capacity to manage their DSM budgets and hopefully prioritise some of the issues we know will arise across education.”

Cllr Gordon Wallace added: “While we need to preserve what reserves we have left, I think we all acknowledge the importance of supporting our young people in their post-Covid learning.”

The funding will be allocated to schools in proportion to their share of the £881,000 savings target.

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