Financial year 2021-22

Planned LA and school expenditure

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See all updates (1) for Financial year 2021-22
  1. Added 'S251 Budget - School level high needs data' file, previously published on the S251 Budget guidance page

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This release contains information on local authority (LA) spending plans for education, children's services (including youth justice), early years, high needs place funding and social care for the financial year 2021-22. 

All figures are presented in cash terms and are not adjusted for inflation. The largest area of spend, on schools, is substantially 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Change to statistics

To reduce burden on local authorities during the pandemic, data on planned expenditure was not collected for the financial year 2020-21. This publication is the first in the series to relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, there is a break in the time series. 

Headline facts and figures - 2021-22

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    View tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from open data using our table tool

  • Data catalogue

    Browse and download open data files from this release in our data catalogue

  • Data guidance

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  • Download all data (ZIP)

    Download all data available in this release as a compressed ZIP file

Additional supporting files

All supporting files from this release are listed for individual download below:

  • S251 Budget - School level high needs data (csv, 262 Kb)

    This file contains the number of planned places and planned expenditure for all schools with high needs places. It includes mainstream and special SEN places, alternative provision places and hospital education places for the financial year 2021-22.

Planned expenditure by local authorities on schools

Planned gross expenditure by local authorities in England on schools in 2021-22 is £51.7 billion; £6.9 billion higher, in cash terms, than in 2019-20 - an increase of 15.4%. Although this increase follows the trends seen in recent years, the rate of increase is higher than previously seen. 

Expenditure on schools accounts for 79.1% of all planned local authority spending on education and children's and young people's services. This is similar to the proportion in earlier years. Total planned expenditure on schools, education and children's and young peoples services was  £65.3 billion in 2021-22. 

A full breakdown of all categories within the schools budget and their planned expenditure can be found in Table 1 of the featured tables (under the explore data and files link). 

High needs funding has had the largest increases in planned spending, in 2021-22 high needs planned expenditure by local authorities is £6.2 billion, an increase of £1.4 billion since 2019-20. Most categories within high needs funding will see an increase in planned gross expenditure in 2021-22. 

A subset of high needs funding, the high needs top up funding and SEN support service planned expenditure is £5.6 billion in 2021-22, an increase of £1.3 billion since 2019-20. 

Planned expenditure on other high needs funding categories (not high needs top up funding or SEN support service) is £549 million in 2021-22, an increase of £74 million since 2019-20. 

The planned spend on direct payments (SEN and disability) has increased by £6.6 million between 2019-20 and 2021-22. Planned expenditure on support for inclusion has risen by £13.8 million between 2019-20 and 2021-22, reversing the trend seen in previous years. 

In other areas of the schools budget there are decreases in planned gross expenditure. Contingencies, behaviour support services, support to under-performing pupils from ethnic minority groups and bilingual learners, museum and library services and school improvement have all seen reductions in the planned gross expenditure for 2021-22. 

Contingencies include expenditure in relation to:

  • schools in financial difficulty
  • the writing-off of deficits of schools which are discontinued, excluding any associated costs and overheads
  • new, amalgamating or closing schools
  • other expenditure where such circumstances were unforeseen when initially determining the school’s budget share.

Individual schools budget per pupil

In 2021-22, the planned expenditure on individual schools budgets, per pupil (per capita), is £4,900. This continues the increasing spend per pupil trend since 2018-19, however the increase in 2021-22 is higher than previously seen. 

As in previous years, planned expenditure per pupil remains highest in Inner London, where staffing costs are higher. However in 2021-22, the percentage increase from 2019-20 was lowest in Inner London (7.2%). All other regions showed higher percentage rises in planned per capita expenditure on individual school budgets:

East Midlands+13.0%
East of England+12.4%
Inner London+7.2%
North East+11.8%
North West+11.7%
Outer London+10.8%
South East+12.4%
South West+12.9%
West Midlands+11.1%
Yorkshire and The Humber+12.2%



Planned expenditure by local authorities on other education and community

The other education and community budget includes, among other categories: education welfare, home to school transport, educational psychology services, plus special educational needs (SEN) administration, central support and pension costs. A full breakdown of all categories and planned expenditure in this area of budget can be found in Table 1 of the featured tables. 

The total planned gross expenditure on the other education and community budget for 2021-22 is £3.0 billion, £0.3 billion (10.8%) higher than in 2019-20. 

The categories which have the largest planned expenditure increases are home to school (and other provisions) transport and SEN administration and assessment. This continues the trend seen in 2019-20. Areas set to see spending increases include:

  • SEN administration and assessment - 37.4% increase from 2019-20
  • Educational psychology service - 16.8% increase from 2019-20
  • Home to school transport (pre 16): SEN transport expenditure - 24.5% increase from 2019-20
  • Home to post-16 provision: SEN/LLDD (learners with learning difficulties and disabilities) transport expenditure (aged 16-18) - 19.7% increase from 2019-20
  • Home to post-16 provision: SEN/LLDD transport expenditure (aged 19-25) - 25.9% increase from 2019-20.

Planned expenditure for some areas of the other education and community budget has reduced. This is partly due to the increased number of schools which have converted to academy status, plus please note that this does not take inflation into account. Areas set to see spending decreases include: 

  • Central support services - 3.4% decrease from 2019-20
  • School improvement - 6.7% decrease since 2019-20
  • Asset management (education) - 15.3% decrease from 2019-20.


Planned expenditure by local authorities on children's and young people's services

Planned expenditure on children's and young people's services includes spending on:

  • Sure Start Children's Centres and Early Years Funding
  • Children Looked After
  • Children and families services
  • Safeguarding Children and Young Peoples Services
  • Family Support Services
  • Services for young people, including substance misuse and teenage pregnancy services
  • Youth justice

Total gross planned expenditure on children's and young peoples services in 2021-22 was £10.6 billion, £1.2 billion higher than in 2019-20. Planned net expenditure per capita (based on the population aged 0 to 17) was £784 in 2021-22, compared to £705 in 2019-20. 

This increase in planned gross expenditure has been seen in all areas, with the exception of Sure Start Children's Centres and Early Years Funding (excluding early years education), which saw a 9.2% decrease since 2019-20. Funding for Sure Start Children's Centres accounts for 83.0% of spend in this category.

For children looked after, planned gross expenditure has increased by 16.8%, this is also in line with the trend seen in recent years. Figures collected by the department through the local authority survey in England to help understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on children’s social care, indicate that the number of looked after children has increased since 2019-20. Further information can be found here (opens in a new tab)

Early years education

The total planned spend on early years education, based on the EYSFF (early years single funding formula), for 3 and 4 year olds is £3.0 billion in 2021-22. For 2 year olds the figure is £0.4 billion. 

For 3 and 4 year olds, planned total expenditure and the planned number of funded hours have increased from 2019-20. Early years pupil premium, SEN inclusion and disability access funding for this age group have all increased. Planned spend on contingency funding, the centrally retained budget and extra local hours have all decreased from 2019-20. 

The increase in planned expenditure on early education for 3 and 4 year olds has been seen in all regions with Outer London showing the largest percentage increase (9.0%), with Inner London the lowest (1.1%). 

Since 2019-20 both planned expenditure, and the planned numbers of funded hours have decreased for children aged 2. 

High needs place funding in maintained schools

High needs funding is intended to provide the most appropriate support package for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities in a range of settings.  This includes SEN units, special schools, pupil referral units and hospital schools. Special school places are funded at £10,000 per place, apart from Hospital schools. Special units and resourced provision in mainstream schools are funded at £6,000 and £10,000 per place respectively. Pupil referral unit places are funded at £10,000. However, it is possible for PRUs to have post-16 places and these may have been funded at different rates. Therefore the total funding may not be exactly divisible by £10,000.

Planned expenditure on high needs places (in addition to the planned spend on high needs from budgets 
retained centrally by local authorities) is affected by the number of schools converting to academy 
status. Since 2015-16 around 4,000 schools have converted to academies (further information can be found here). High needs places funding for academies comes through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and not via the local authority. The lower numbers of LA maintained schools therefore result in lower high needs planned expenditure from LAs. 

Only a few local authorities have maintained hospital schools, but maintained special schools and PRUs can have hospital education places as well, normally in addition to special school and PRU places respectively. Hospital education places are  funded at a local rate per place, rather than a national standard rate. 

In 2021-22, planned expenditure on high needs places was: 

  • SEN (special educational needs) places  -  £896 million
  • PRU (pupil referral unit) places - £132 million
  • Hospital education - £21 million

The number of SEN places, and funding for SEN places, has increased from 2019-20. The number of places has increased by around 1,700, with planned funding increasing by £21 million.  Places (and planned funding) for both PRUs and hospital education has decreased since 2019-20. This reverses the trend seen between 2018-19 and 2019-20 when both PRU and hospital education saw increases, whilst SEN places saw decreases. 

Full details of all schools with planned high needs places, including both the planned number of places per school and planned expenditure is available here

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