It was announced on Friday (17 April) that Academies will no longer be required to submit their Budget Forecast Return Outturn (BFRO) to the ESFA by the 19 May, after the government confirmed that they would be cancelling the collection because of the coronavirus outbreak.
May deadline for Budget Forecast Return Outturn cancelled
Usually, academies would now be preparing to submit a BFRO ahead of the May deadline, with the form scheduled to be released to schools to complete as of this week.
However, the Department for Education have said that the return, which collects financial outturn information as at the end of March each year, had been cancelled.
The ESFA uses the information provided to ensure that the academy sector can accurately report its financial data to HM Treasury, and at this moment in time it is unclear as to how this requirement will now be met, with the government simply confirming that “the BFRO will not be required this year and the next scheduled financial return for academy trusts will be the BFR3Y in June”.
A decision on whether the Budget Forecast Return Three Year (BFR3Y) will be required, which is normally submitted in June and before a deadline of 31 July 2020, is being deferred by the ESFA and they will confirm once they have a clearer picture of the impact of Covid-19 nearer the time.
The news regarding the cancellation of the upcoming BFRO and “pause” on ongoing returns, will no doubt alleviate some of the current pressure on resources and workloads faced within the sector, and be seen as another positive move by the government and DfE as our schools continue to play their part in supporting our communities and children of key workers at this time.
Further support in the meantime
Earlier in April the government set out the financial support the DfE will provide for schools, covering support up to the end of the 2019/2020 summer term. This additional funding is designed to cover additional specific costs incurred by schools as a result of the support they are providing during this time, which they will not be able to cover from their existing resources, or which they could only meet by drawing down on reserves and undermining their long-term financial sustainability. This may include items such as increased premises costs; cleaning costs or support for free school meals for children not attending the school.
The guidance outlines the support the DfE is putting in place for such schools, including details on eligibility and how schools can access funding, and the full guidance can be found here .
State funded schools will continue to receive their core funding allocations, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure, as well as continuing to pay staff and meet other regular financial commitments. Local authorities will also continue to receive their high needs budgets and will continue to pay top-up and other high needs funding to schools.
The government furlough support provisions are predominantly aimed at businesses and organisations that do not receive government funding. However, support may be available through this scheme for Independent schools where the staff costs are funded in the main by fee income or in some state funded schools where some of the school staff may be funded from other sources e.g. premises or staff associated with letting premises. This is a complex area and there is further detailed guidance available here .
Schools will understandably be keen to ensure that they take the correct action moving forward, and whether you are already working with Rickard Luckin or perhaps seeking independent advice and support during these challenging times, you can of course contact our experienced advisers who are here to help across all areas of your school finances. Please contact Kate Bell, Director at Rickard Luckin, at
or on 01268 983904 to discuss further.
We will of course continue to bring you further updates and clarification as and when it becomes available, and will be posting all updates to our new client support page which can be found by going to: https://www.rickardluckin.co.uk/news/client-support