Financial year 2019-20

LA and school expenditure

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This release contains detailed information on expenditure by local authority maintained schools and expenditure by local authorities on education and children’s and young people’s services. This includes education by sector, Sure Start children’s centres, looked after children, family support services and youth justice. The latest information relates to the 2019-20 financial year and therefore relates to local authority expenditure prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This publication does not include expenditure by academies. We publish academy school finance data separately. The largest area of spend, on schools, is significantly affected by the number of schools which have become academies, and that number has continued to increase. This means that it will not be possible to make like-for-like comparisons of LA expenditure on schools between years based on the figures in the forthcoming charts. 

All figures in this release are presented in cash terms and are not adjusted for inflation.

Headline facts and figures - 2019-20

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School income and expenditure

The gross expenditure reported by LA maintained schools has decreased every year since 2011-12 driven primarily by their conversion to academy status. The total gross expenditure by LA maintained schools in the financial year 2019-20 was £23.7 billion. 

Of gross expenditure, £11.0 billion (47%) was spent on permanent and supply teaching staff, £4.3 billion (18%) on education support staff; £2.8 billion (12%) on other employee costs; and £5.6 billion (24%) on running expenses. These percentages are similar to those of 2018-19. 

Education support staff include teaching assistants, who are more widely employed in primary and special schools. In the financial year 2019-20, 18% of total gross expenditure in primary schools and 33% of total gross expenditure in special schools was spent on education support staff. This compares to 10% in secondary schools. These figures have been similar in each year since 2014-15. 

Due to the decrease in the number of maintained schools, it is more useful to compare the average net spend
 per pupil over time. 

The average net current spend per pupil for each school type, for financial years 2014-15 to 2019-20 is shown in the graph below. Between 2018-19 and 2019-20 the average spend per pupil increased for each school type: 

  • For primary schools, the average net current spend per pupil has risen by 6%,  from £4,845 in 2018-19 to  £5,114 in 2019-20.
  • For secondary schools, the average net spend per pupils has risen by 4%, from £5,750 in 2018-19 to £5,974 in 2019-20.
  • The average net spend per pupil in special schools has also risen by 4% from £21,894 in 2018-19 to £22,714 in 2019-20. 

The net expenditure per pupil by LA maintained schools is provided in the map and table below. Selecting a LA in the map will  display its overall net expenditure per pupil by for primary, secondary and all phases of schools collated (including nursery, special and PRU). 


In the financial year 2019-20, the total income for all LA maintained schools was £23.7 billion.  This includes funds delegated by the LA, funding for minority ethnic pupils and those with special educational needs, pupil premium, other grants and funding plus self generated income.  The majority of income comes from LA funding and other grants. 

Funding income for pupils with SEN was £1.5 billion, this now accounts for 7% of total funding income, the contribution that SEN funding income makes to total income has risen each year since 2014-15.

Pupil premium funding was £1.1 billion and accounts for 5% of total funding income, this percentage has declined slightly in each year since 2014-15.

Self generated income accounts for 7% of the total income of LA maintained schools. The total self-generated income of LA maintained schools was £1.5 billion. As the majority of LA maintained schools are primary (84%), it therefore follows that the majority of self generated income is raised by primary schools. In 2019-20,  £1.0 billion (68%) was generated by primary schools, £0.3 billion (19%) was generated by secondary schools, and the remaining £0.2 billion (13%) was generated by special schools, nursery schools and PRUs together. The average amount of self generated income per school is lower in primary schools at £95,000 per school in 2019-20, the comparable figure for secondary schools is £360,000 per school. However the amounts raised per school vary widely, influenced by factors such as school size, facilities and location. 

Of all sources of self generated income,  the greatest proportion (32%) comes from income from facilities and services, with a further 10% of income generated by letting premises. Income from catering accounts for 16% of self generated income while contributions to visits etc. accounts for 12%. 


School revenue balances

Overall numbers of schools in deficit

The number of LA maintained schools in deficit increased between the financial years 2018-19 to 2019-20 from 9.9% to 12.0%. This reverses a small fall in the percentage of schools in deficit seen in the previous year's data. Over the full range of the data published in this release, the percentage of schools in deficit has increased from 5.4% in 2014-15.

Revenue balances and percentages of schools in deficit by phase

Separating this maintained school data into the separate overall school phases shows large differences in the percentages of schools in deficit. In 2019-20, only secondary schools have shown a decrease in the proportion of schools in deficit, whilst still remaining the phase of education with the highest percentage of schools in deficit (27%).

In 2018-19, pupil referral units and nursery schools saw the most significant decreases in the percentage of schools in deficit, but the 2019-20 data shows a reversal to slightly higher than 2017-18 levels. For nursery schools, the percentage has increased from 18% to 21%. For pupil referral units, it has increased from 16% to 21%.

The percentages of special schools and primaries in deficit have seen increases, by 1 percentage-point to 13%, and by 2 percentage-points to 10% respectively, but remain lower than in other phases.

Alongside the increase in the percentage of schools in deficit, the average revenue balances of schools in surplus and deficit have both increased, with the average deficit increasing more than the average surplus. The chart below shows the average revenue balance separately for schools in surplus and deficit, split by primary and secondary phase schools.

For both primary and secondary schools, the average surplus of schools in surplus is lower than the average deficit of schools recording deficit. For both primary and secondary, the average surplus and average deficit have increased in absolute terms from 2018-19 to 2019-20. The average deficit of secondary schools in deficit has increased by 19% and the average deficit of primary schools in deficit has increased by 16%. The corresponding figures for schools in surplus are 17% and 3% for secondary and primary schools respectively.

School revenue balances by LA

In the map below we show the variation of the percentage of schools in deficit mapped by LA. There is substantial variation in the percentage of schools in deficit around the country, with some LAs having as few as 1-2% of schools in deficit and others reaching almost 50% of schools in deficit. We also provide the geographical distribution of the percentages of primary and secondary schools in deficit (these can be selected via the drop down menu). Click on any LA in England to see their individual percentages of schools in deficit.

Further to the percentages, we show below a map of the variation in average revenue balances separately for schools in deficit, surplus and all schools (again these can be selected via the drop down menu). Again, significant variation is evident, with average revenue balances in individual LAs ranging from an overall deficit of £55,000 to an overall average surplus of up to £500,000.

Again, by clicking on an individual LA, the relevant figures will be displayed.

LA expenditure on schools and other education

Overall, we see a fall in costs to local authorities driven by the reduced number of schools under their control (as more schools transition to becoming academies). At the same time, the expenditure per pupil has been rising such that more is spent by local authorities on each pupil. The cost of other educational and community services has risen both as a total cost to local authorities and on a per pupil basis.

In numbers, the expenditure by local authorities across England on their collective schools budgets was £27 billion in the school year 2019-20, falling 1% from the expenditure in 2018-19. This continues the recent year-on-year trends. Expenditure by local authorities on other education and community budgets was £3.1 billion, an increase of 5% from 2018-19 and the highest total spend on education and community budgets since 2014-15.

The number of schools maintained by local authorities has fallen in the last year, as more schools transition to becoming academies (and are thus funded directly, rather than via local authorities). The trend is highlighted in the chart and table below, with the 2018-19 to 2019-20 fall constituting a reduction of 4% (i.e. the number of LA maintained schools has fallen by a larger percentage than the fall in the LA allocated schools funding).

We can account for the fall in numbers of LA maintained schools by taking the expenditure per pupil  (population under 20 years old) that local authorities have dedicated to their schools budgets and we see that this has steadily increased year-on-year since 2014-15. The spend by LAs on their individual schools budgets in 2019-20 was £5,380 per pupil, an increase of 1% on 2018-19. High needs elements were the next highest component of the overall LA schools budgets, accounting for £390 per pupil, an increase of 9% on 2018-19.

The expenditure per pupil on the other education and communities budget was £600 in 2019-20, an increase of 12% on 2018-19. This continues a significant year-on-year upwards trend with more than a 50% increase since 2014-15.

Detailed Educational Expenditure Breakdown by Sector

A more detailed breakdown of the national expenditure on education by LAs is given in the chart and table below, broken down by expenditure category (effectively recreating the schools and other education section of Table 1a from previous Schools Finance publications).

Individual LA expenditure on schools and educational services

The expenditure per LA on individual schools budgets and other educational and community budgets are provided in the map and table below (equivalent to the educational figures presented in Tables 7 and 8 in the 2018-19 publication). Select a LA in the map below to display its overall net expenditure on the individual schools budget and other educational and community budget.

LA expenditure on all children's and young people's services

Between 2018-19 and 2019-20, local authority expenditure has increased for children looked after (8%), safeguarding children’s and young people’s services (10%), family support services (5%), youth justice (5%) and other children and family services (27%). Expenditure has decreased for Sure Start centres and under 5s provision (6%) and services for young people (6%).

Further details on each of this sectors is given in the following sections.

LA expenditure on Sure Start children's centres and other spend on children under 5

The total expenditure by local authorities in the financial year 2019-20, on Sure Start children's centres and children under 5 was £560 million. This is a decrease of 6% from the 2018-19 figure of £590 million. 

LA expenditure on this category has decreased each year since 2014-15, however the rate of decrease has slowed. Between 2017-18 and 2018-19 there was a decrease of 11% in LA expenditure. 


LA expenditure on children looked after

The total local authority expenditure on children looked after, in the financial year 2019-20, was £5.3 billion. This is an 8% increase from the 2018-19 financial year. 

Separate figures show the number of children looked after by local authorities in England increased by
 2% between 31 March 2019 and 31 March 2020, continuing the trend seen in recent years. For further information on the numbers of looked after children please see here.  

LA expenditure on family support services

In the 2019-20 financial year, the total LA expenditure of family support services was £1.2 billion. LA expenditure in this area has risen by 5% from 2018-19 financial year. The total figure includes £0.2 billion on short respite breaks for disabled children and £0.7 billion on targeted family support. 

LA expenditure on youth justice

In the financial year 2019-20, the total expenditure by local authorities on youth justice was £290 million, a 5% rise from 2018-19.  

Safeguarding and other expenditure on young peoples services

In the 2019-20 financial year, the total expenditure by local authorities on safeguarding was £2.7 billion, an increase of 10% from 2018-19. 

The second table shows that expenditure on universal and targeted young peoples services was £370 million, a decrease of 6% from 2018-19. This figure of £370 million includes £8.7 million spent on substance misuse services and £2.6 million on teenage pregnancy services.

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