EA’s two sponsoring departments, the Department of Education and the Department for the Economy, set annual budgetary limits for the EA which should not be exceeded without prior approval. In 2016-17 the EA overspent by £19.1 million compared with its total budget allocation for the year.
Key issues in the C&AG’s report are:
EA was not formally informed of its allocated budget until 23 March 2016, that is six working days before the start of the financial year;
EA did not agree how the budget would be managed including the savings to be achieved until August 2016, that is five months after the commencement of the year. EA advised that a number of discussions had taken place with DE between March and August 2016 on budget submissions and scenarios;
EA sought and was allocated additional funding during 2016-17;
EA’s total budget allocation for 2016-17 was £1,543.4 million. However, EA’s total expenditure was £1,562.5 million, resulting in an overspend of £19.1 million; and
DE advised that the main causes of the EA’s overspend compared with the DE Resource allocation were higher than budgeted spend on schools’ delegated budgets (£7.8 million), Special Education Needs (£6.8 million), and school maintenance (£3.9 million).
EA considers the reasons for the overspend are a combined impact of a number of factors, including :
- Significant and ongoing reductions in the spending power of DE budgets;
- The structure of the education system, including a number of systemic matters
- that need to be addressed.
- The delegation of significant elements of the budget to schools, where EA has
- limited powers to intervene;
- The majority of EA services are driven by statutory or policy requirements and
- over 80% of costs are staff based; and
- The failure to secure sufficient additional funding in year.
Read the full report here