School Finance Frequently Asked Questions

School Finance Frequently Asked Questions

Here we have pulled together the answers to common questions asked by school finance managers on funding and financial management.  To view the answer, just click on a question in the list below.

Further guidance is available in other areas of this website.  The ‘SFT Guidance’ area contains general information, including a list of “Who Do I Contact”

If you don’t find the answer here, or anywhere else on the website, please ask your School Funding Team Officer

 

Bank Accounts, Income & Advances

Do all schools have their own Bank Accounts?
How do I complete the Bank Reconciliation Return required by the Local Authority?
What is an Advance?
What is the difference between Part Budget Share and Full Budget Share?
Can any school choose to go Full Budget Share?
What is the Pupil Premium?
What is a VAT Reimbursement?
What if there isn’t enough money in my Bank Account to cover my outgoings?
What happens if too much or too little is paid out in Advances to Part Budget Share Schools?
What is the VAT Registration number for my school?
What is the difference between ‘Funding’ and ‘Income’?
How are School’s Unitary Charge (BSF) Payments Treated?
How do I know what to do at year-end?

Budgeting & Monitoring

What is HCSS Software and why should I use it?
What is SAP and what are ‘Tabs’?
How do I receive the Tabs?
How Do I Complete the Budget and Monitoring Returns required by the Local Authority?
Should the Governing Body discuss and approve each Quarterly Monitoring Report before it is submitted to the Local Authority?
What should I do if my Budget Monitor shows a forecasted deficit balance at the end of the financial year?
What value of surplus carry forward balance is classed as ‘Excessive’?
What happens if I fail to submit a required return to the SFT on time?
In what circumstances would I be required to carry out Monthly Monitoring?

Funding

What is the Fair Funding Formula?
How do I find out about how my budget has been calculated?
How can I find funding information for other schools in Bradford? What about Schools Nationally?
Who manages Formula Funding and the calculation of school budgets in Bradford?
How can I keep in touch with formula developments and funding decisions?
How can I have my say on formula funding?
What do I do if I want to query the data on which my budget has been calculated? Or find out whether my funding can be adjusted for changes after the Section 251 Budgets have been published in March?
What is the Scheme for Financing Schools?

Other General Questions

As a finance manager, what are the key tasks I should be completing weekly, monthly, quarterly, termly and annually?
How do I know which CFR code to use?
What do I do if I want to query the calculation of my Financial Classification?
What Training & Support Services for Schools does the School Funding Team Provide?
What Training on financial processes and good practice is available for Governors?
Where can I find information on comparative spending and value for money?
What is SFVS and how is this different from FMSiS?
What does it mean to be an Academy?

What is 'BSO Dropbox and BSO Postbox'?
How do I find out about the latest information published by the School Funding Team?

 

Bank Accounts, Income & Advances

Do all schools have their own Bank Accounts?

Yes, every school in Bradford has a bank account in which they hold their revenue funds and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Enabling Account’. In addition, Schools may also have a High Interest account in which they hold surplus revenue funds. The school uses the Bank Account to pay suppliers for goods and services. It may also be used to pay salaries. The Council also uses this bank account to credit the schools with the monthly Advances and VAT Reimbursements. In addition to the LA Advance, schools generate their own income, especially from lettings, donations, fund raising and bids for external grants.

How Do I Complete the Bank Reconciliation Return required by the Local Authority?

Please see the How To’ guide posted on this website alongside the Bank Reconciliation Return templates.

What is an Advance?

Advances are the cash payments made to schools by the Local Authority on a monthly basis. A schedule of dates for advances payments is posted on this website under “SFT Guidance”.

Advances are primarily based on the funding a school receives in their Section 251 Funding statement in March (CFR I01 to I05 funding). This is your revenue funding. These advances payments are normally updated monthly to adjust for changes in funding, especially movement of pupils with Statements of SEN and Pupil Premium allocations. An Advances summary for each school to download is posted on this website. The actual amount paid depends on whether a school has Full Budget Share status or Part Budget Share status (see below).

What is the difference between Part Budget Share and Full Budget Share?

Part Budget Share schools have their salaries, catering fees and other costs paid by the Council using the Council bank account. The cost of the salaries, catering, rates and de-delegrated items (where applicable) identified in the approved budget are withheld by the Council in order to pay these costs on the schools behalf. The remainder is paid to the school.

Full Budget Share schools have chosen to pay staff salaries and, catering costs through the bank account. This means that the entire Section 251 Funding, with the exception of Rates and de-delegated items (where appropriate) is issued to schools through advance payments. Further details are available on the Full Budget Share Option page on this website. 

Can any school choose to go Full Budget Share?

Yes, but the Council allows a limited number of schools only to change to Full Budget Share status each year. Priority is given to those schools in Category D of the Classification of Schools and the process is managed on a first come first served basis. Schools are notified each year in the autumn term as to how many ‘places’ are available and how to apply.

What is the Pupil Premium?

Refer to the Pupil Premium information available on the DfE website

What is a VAT Reimbursement?

VAT expenditure processed through the Bank Account using revenue funding can be reclaimed by the school, or VAT on income paid over. Schools must send in their VAT Submittal form detailing the monthly VAT breakdown by the 10th of each month in order for the VAT to be repaid.

What if there isn’t enough money in my Bank Account to cover my outgoings?

Keeping an accurate and up to date cash flow record is essential. However, if there is an instance when additional funds are required then an accelerated advance can be requested. You should alert School Funding Team that additional funds are required and how much is needed. We will require documentation from the school in order to carry out checks before any funding can be issued.

What happens if too much or too little is paid out in Advances to Part Budget Share Schools?

The amount of advances paid is calculated using the figures for the withheld costs in the Approved Budget at the start of the year (staffing, catering, Rates and de-delegates items). However, the actual spend at year end for these areas may differ. This could mean that too little or too much has been withheld by the Council and an adjustment is therefore, required. If too little has been withheld then the School owes the Council money. If too much has been withheld then the Council owes the school money.

At the end of the financial year a calculation is carried out to determine whether the advances paid out to Part Budget Share Schools have been accurate. This is called the ‘Bank Adjustment’. Schools will be informed if they have incurred a Bank Adjustment and the action they need to take.

What is the VAT Registration number for my school?

All Bradford LA maintained schools have the same VAT number, which is 180-8082-62. 

What is the difference between ‘Funding’ and ‘Income’?

Funding is the money schools receive on the Section 251 Statement, identified under categories I01, I02, I03, I05, some I06 and I18. Income tends to be the money schools generate themselves or receive from grant bids etc. This income is identified in categories I06 to I15. Refer to the CFR online guide on the DfE website to ascertain what is included and excluded in each category.

How are School’s Unitary Charge (BSF) Payments Treated?

The monthly payments owed by schools within the Building Schools for the Future Programme to their service provider are deducted from each school’s advance and paid by the Council on behalf of the school, even if the school is Full Budget Share. The value of these payments may alter on a monthly basis.

How do I know what to do at year-end?

Year-end guidance is updated annually and posted on the Year-End Forms page in the secure area of this website.
 

Budgeting & Monitoring

What is HCSS Software and why should I use it?

HCSS is a financial planning software package. The local authority has an established strategic partnership with HCSS and the software used by Bradford schools is tailored specifically to Bradford’s funding formula and staffing costs information. The software enables schools to accurately construct their annual budget, and also to forecast income and expenditure over a 5 year period, allowing schools to investigate different scenarios for budget planning purposes. The latest version of the software also allows schools to build their budgets around the aims of their School Development Plan. If you do not currently use this software and would like to look into this further, please contact your School Funding Team Officer

What is SAP and what are ‘Tabs’?

SAP is simply the product name of the Bradford Council Ledger system. Financial reports, often referred to as ‘Tabs’, are issued to schools each month. These reports are extracted from SAP and contain the financial transactions, including payroll for Part Budget Share schools, for the period recorded on the ledger. School should check these reports each month.

How do I receive the Tabs?

Payroll reports are sent to schools via the BSO Dropbox facility. The ledger budget reports on SAP postings to a school’s income and expenditure codes are also made available through this system.

How Do I Complete the Budget and Monitoring Returns required by the Local Authority?

Please see the guidance posted within and alongside the budget and monitoring templates.

Should the Governing Body discuss and approve each Quarterly Monitoring Report before it is submitted to the Local Authority?

Yes.  

What should I do if my Budget Monitor shows a forecasted deficit balance at the end of the financial year?

The local authority exercises a ‘zero tolerance’ stance towards deficit budgets. Should you predict a deficit balance at year end you must inform your School Funding Officer immediately. Refer to the Deficit Budget Protocol, posted on this website, for detailed guidance on the deficit budget application process.

What value of surplus carry forward balance is classed as ‘Excessive’?

Schools that have a surplus balance in excess of defined thresholds must have the value of the excess balance above the threshold assigned for specific schemes, approved by the Governing Body, following Bradford’s Surplus Balances Protocol and the provisions within the Scheme for Financing Schools. Both these documents are available on this website.

What happens if I fail to submit a required return to the SFT on time?

The deadlines in place provide sufficient time for schools to compile, check and present the reports to Governors before the submission date. Failure to meet deadlines will result in the issuing of points on the Light Touch Financial Monitoring Scorecard, with the potential for further requirements being placed on the school by the School Funding Teams. The LTFM protocol is posted on this website. The scorecard is calculated and issued on a quarterly basis.

In what circumstances would I be required to carry out Monthly Monitoring?

Following the School Funding Team protocols, a school is required to carry out monthly monitoring where:

·                     The school has been placed in Category A or Bii in the Financial Classification of schools protocol

·                     The school is classed as “red” in the Light Touch Financial Monitoring (LTFM) protocol

 

Funding

What is the Fair Funding Formula?

This is the formula the Local Authority uses to calculate the budgets for individual schools. Please see the Formula Funding area of this website

How do I find out about how my budget has been calculated?

Please see the description of the formula and your individual budget statement, available in the secure Formula Fundingarea of this website. If you have any specific questions, please contact the School Formula Funding Officer.

How can I find funding information for other schools in Bradford? What about Schools Nationally?

You can download from the secure area of the website the budget statements for individual schools in Bradford. Alternatively, you can also view the full Section 251 Budget Statement, which shows the allocations for all schools for the next financial year. This Statement is published in April each year. All Local Authorities are required to publish their Section 251 Statements on their websites. You can also download the information from other Local Authorities from the DfE website, when this is made available in the autumn term

Who manages Formula Funding and the calculation of school budgets in Bradford?

Formula Funding and the allocation of funding to schools in Bradford are managed by the Schools Forum and its working subgroups. Bradford’s Schools Forum is a representative group of Headteachers, Governors and Non-School members established by statutory instruments issued by the Government Further information on the Schools Forum is available to view in the Schools Forum area of this website.

How can I keep in touch with formula developments and funding decisions?

The agendas and minutes of Schools Forum, Formula Funding Working Group (FFWG) and Early Years Working Group (EYWG) meetings are posted on the Bradford Council Committee Meeting and Minutes page available through links from this website. In addition, you can download current consultation papers and presentation made to school managers.

How can I have my say on formula funding?

There are a number of routes through which you can feed into review of the funding formula in Bradford:

·                     Talk to a current Schools Forum member, who can raise and issues at the Forum (please see the Schools Forum area of this website for a membership list)

·                     Talk directly to the School Funding Team

·                     Respond to published consultations on formula review 

 

What do I do if I want to query the data on which my budget has been calculated? Or find out whether my funding can be adjusted for changes after the Section 251 Budgets have been published in March?

Please contact the School Formula Funding Officer in the first instance.

What is the Scheme for Financing Schools?

The Scheme for Financing Schools is a legal document governing the relationship between the Local Authority and schools in the management of delegated budgets. Further information and the full document are available on the Protocolspage of this website.


Other General Questions

As a finance manager, what are the key tasks I should be completing weekly, monthly, quarterly, termly and annually?

Please see the Diary of Dutiesguidance available on this website

How do I know which CFR code to use?

Consult the CFR online guide on the DfE website.

What does it mean if my school is classed as Category A, B, C or D?

The Financial Classification of Schools protocol outlines how a school’s category is determined. A Category A school requires the highest level of support.

What do I do if I want to query the calculation of my Financial Classification?

Contact your School Funding Team Officer in the first instance

What training & support services for schools does the School Funding Team provide?

Please see the SFT Services to Schools area of this website

What training on financial processes and good practice is available for Governors?

Please see the SFT Services to Schoolsarea of this website

Where can I find information on comparative spending and value for money?

Please start with the financial benchmarking pages in the secure area of this website, following the “School Specific Information Provided by SFT” menu

What is SFVS and how is this different from FMSiS?

Refer to the School Financial Value Standard information on the DfE website

What does it mean to be an Academy?

Refer to the Academies information available on the DfE website.

What is 'BSO Dropbox and BSO Postbox'?

Bradford Schools Online has a facility for transmitting documents from the Authority for download by schools called “File Dropbox” which is accessed via a hyperlink button in the Utilities menu when schools sign into the secure section.  Only a Level One administrator for BSO can access and download the files. BSO Postbox is a system for transmitting data-sensitive files from Bradford Schools to Bradford Council and is similar to the BSO Dropbox facility,

How do I find out about the latest information published by the School Funding Team?

When SFT publish news items or issue financial updates, they are listed in chronological order on the “Latest News and Updates” page on this website.
 

 

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