To receive a report on the above by Dafydd L Edwards
The Head of the Finance Department presented the report and noted there had not been much change in the budget since the previous meeting. He stated that the Council had avoided transferring the schools savings target to Gwynedd schools once again this year. It was added that the schools' budget would increase this year due to the usual demographic adjustments, that derive from changes in pupil numbers. Attention was drawn to the Council's bids and it was noted that there was a recommendation for the Council to agree to fund bids to the value of £593k for the Education Department, towards the transport and integration budget.
It was stated that the budget was fair, and with inflation of over £4m to consider, the schools' budget would be considerably higher in 2019/20 than the level in 2018/19. It was stated that several grants were available to Education from the Welsh Government and it appeared that there would be no 'cash' cut, however, the Government would not add inflation to the grants. Therefore costs, including teachers' wages and pension inflation will increase by 5%, and as a result schools will be in a situation where some of the grants will be cuts in 'real' terms. However, it was added that there would be a new grant from the Government towards teacher training.
Teachers' pensions was discussed and it was noted that a presumption continued that the Government will fund the increase in 2019/20 teachers' pensions via a specific grant. It was added that consultation had taken place with the education sector in England and there was mention of full funding for schools in England. It was stated that there was also an expectation for this to occur in Wales as well. It was added that if no money was forthcoming from the Welsh Government to fund the increase in pension contributions, or if the grant was insufficient, there would be a need to re-visit this and discuss with school how they can deal with the one-off pressure in 2019/20.
It was noted that there had been discussions in the Cabinet on savings required in 2019/20, and it was added that the Cabinet had resolved to recommend to the Full Council in March not to cut the Schools Library Service.
Observations arising from the discussion
- It was asked if draft budgets include the presumption that a contribution to the increase in Teachers' pension contributions would be funded by a grant by the Government. It was noted that this was included in the budgets, as the Finance Department believed that it was irresponsible for schools to feel that they were needlessly facing cuts, it was added that the department will seek to get the full money from Welsh Government. It was added that pension contributions were on the risk radar, however, it would be necessary to deal fully with this matter when there is more information.
Resolved: To accept the report