Financial year 2023-24

Planned LA and school expenditure

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See all updates (1) for Financial year 2023-24
  1. Update of high needs places file to reflect additional data return.

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Introduction

This release contains information on local authority (LA) spending plans for education, children's services (including youth justice), early years, and high needs place funding for the financial year 2023-24.

LAs are required under section 251 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (opens in a new tab) to prepare and submit a budget statement to the Department for Education each year. The information provided is used in this release.

Figures are presented in cash terms and are not adjusted for inflation.

‘Explore data and files’ contains files that underpin this release and allows expert users to interrogate and analyse data for themselves. For pre-populated summary statistics please see the relevant section below, from which the data can be further explored using the ‘Explore data’ functionality. You can also view featured tables or create your own tables using the ‘create tables’ functionality.


Headline facts and figures - 2023-24

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Additional supporting files

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

  • Number of high needs places by school, updated December 2023 (xlsx, 180 Kb)

    This file contains the number of high needs places, pupil referral unit places and hospital school places by school. The number of places for the periods between April 2023 and August 2023 and September 2023 and March 2024 are shown, together with the total high needs funding for the financial year 2023-24. File updated 12 December 2023

Planned expenditure on schools

Local authorities in England planned net expenditure on schools in 2023-24 is £57.8 billion; £3.7 billion higher (6.9%), in cash terms, than in 2022-23. This takes into account planned gross expenditure of £57.9 billion and income of £0.1 billion.

This expenditure on schools accounts for 80.1% of LA planned spending on education and children's and young people's services; a similar proportion to previous years.

Of the planned £57.8 billion spend on schools:

  • £46.7 billion (80.8%) is for individual school budgets.
  • £2.0 billion (3.65%) is for high needs place funding.
  • £9.1 billion (15.6%) is for other services, such as high needs top-up funding, behavioural support, bilingual support, museum and library services, SEN support, and educational welfare.

These figures are prior to academy recoupment. Recoupment is a method of adjusting a dedicated schools grant  (information on DSG is available here (opens in a new tab)) to take account of the conversion of a maintained school into an academy. In 2023-24, it was planned that the total sum to be recouped from academies would be £25.6 billion, with a further £0.8 billion recouped from academies high needs place funding. 

Within the £57.8 billion planned total net expenditure on schools, the following categories have seen the largest increases since 2022-23: 

  • High needs top-up funding for maintained schools has increased by 11.8% to £2.5 billion, for non-maintained and independent providers by 15.1% to £2.2 billion, and for academies, free schools and colleges by 17.4% to £2.2 billion. High needs top up funding is funding over and above the core high needs place funding, which a school or college receives to enable a pupil or student with high needs to participate in education and learning. 
  • Additional targeted SEN funding for mainstream schools and academies has increased by 8.0%, to £58 million. This is additional funding given by the LA to ensure schools have enough funding to meet additional support costs up to £6,000 for pupils with SEN, where they cannot reasonably do this out of their budget share or other mainstream funding.
  • Planned expenditure for SEN support services increased by 5.9% to £588 million. This includes costs of non-delegated centrally retained specialist SEN support services, including services for  visual, hearing and physical impairment, specific learning difficulties, speech, language and communication, profound and severe learning difficulties and autism. 
  • Support for inclusion, which includes collaboration between mainstream and special schools and expenditure for the integration of children between settings, has increased by  13.1% to £217 million. 
  • Planned central expenditure on early years entitlement has increased by 9.5% to £166 million. 

Categories which have seen the largest decreases in planned net expenditure include:

  • Planned expenditure on special schools and PRUs in financial difficulty has decreased by 68.4% to £0.8 million. 
  • Contribution to combined budgets has decreased by 39.3% to £43.8 million.
  • Planned expenditure on central support services has decreased by a third to £3.7 million. 

A full breakdown can be found in Table 1: Planned expenditure on schools, by category of expenditure, and phase of school, England, financial year 2023-24. A time series for gross and net expenditure, income and net expenditure per capita for all years from 2015-16 can be found in  Table 2: Total planned expenditure, income, and net expenditure per capita, England, financial years 2015-16 to 2023-24.  

i) Individual schools budget per pupil

In 2023-24, the £46.7 billion planned net expenditure on individual school budgets equates to £5,229 per pupil. This is £260 higher than in 2022-23 and continues the increasing spend per pupil trend since 2018-19.

As in previous years, planned net expenditure per pupil remains highest in Inner London, where staffing costs are higher. Per pupil planned spend on individual schools budgets in Inner London was £6,559 in 2023-24.

ii) Planned expenditure by phase of school

Within the Section 251 budget return, LAs are asked for gross expenditure categories by school phase. Expected income is not returned in the same manner, meaning that net expenditure by school phase cannot be calculated. Therefore, this section focuses on gross planned expenditure only.

Gross planned expenditure has risen for all phases of school:

  • For early years, planned expenditure increased from £3.8 billion in 2022-23 to £4.1 billion.
  • For primary schools, planned expenditure increased from £23.1 billion in 2022-23 to £24.1 billion. 
  • For secondary schools, planned expenditure increased from £20.7 billion in 2022-23 to £22.2 billion. 
  • For special schools, planned expenditure increased from £5.1 billion in 2022-23 to £5.8 billion.
  • For pupil referral units, planned expenditure increased slightly from £719 million to £785 million.
  • For post 16 establishments, planned expenditure increased from £609 million to  £676 million.

In addition to this planned expenditure by school phase, there is a further £0.2 billion on central services which are funded through the schools budget. These include education welfare, asset management, central support and regulatory duties, school improvements and staff-related costs. 

Planned expenditure on other education and community

 The total planned net expenditure on the other education and community budget for 2023-24 is £3.0 billion, £0.4 billion (16.1%) higher than in 2022-23.  Net expenditure per capita is £849, £136 higher than in 2022-23. 

This includes planned expenditure on education and community, including education welfare, home to school transport, educational psychology services, special educational needs (SEN) administration, central support and pension costs. The number of pupils who have education, health and care plans, and who have SEN support has increased each year since 2015. This, combined with changes in funding following the 2014 Children and Families Act, would result in some categories relating to SEN increasing. For other categories such as transport, rises in fuel prices and the cost of living may be a contributing factor.

  • Home to school transport for pupils under 16 with SEN increased by 23.0% to £1.2 billion. 
  • Home to post-16 provision for pupils aged 16 to 18 with SEN increased by 19.6% to £129.9 million. 
  • Home to post-16 provision: SEN/LLDD (learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities) transport expenditure for students aged 19-25 increased by 44.1% to £47.2 million. 
  • Home to post-16 transport expenditure for mainstream pupils increased by 33.5% to £31.7 million. 
  • SEN administration, assessment and coordination and monitoring increased by 20.9% to £291.4 million. 

The categories which have the largest planned expenditure decreases since 2022-23 are:

  • Premature retirement and redundancy costs decreased by 31.4% to £11.5 million. 
  • Young people's learning and development costs. This covers 16 to 18 provision other than schools and further education (FE), and covers non-advanced direct provision on 16 to 18 apprenticeships and entry to employment. It decreased by 14.2% to £22.8 million between 2022-23 and 2023-24. 

All categories in this area of budget can be found in Table 3: Planned expenditure on other education and community, by category of expenditure and phase of school, England, financial year 2023-24. This can be found under the explore data and files link. Also Table 4: Total planned expenditure, income, and net expenditure per capita, for other education and community, England, financial years 2015-16 to 2023-24.

Planned expenditure on children's and young people's services

Total net planned expenditure on children's and young people's services for 2023-24 is £11.4 billion. This is £1.1 billion (11.2%) higher than for 2022-23 and includes:

  • Sure start children's centres and early years funding
  • Children looked after
  • Children and families services
  • Safeguarding children and young people's services
  • Family support services
  • Services for young people, including substance misuse and teenage pregnancy services, and 
  • Youth justice.

Per capita, planned expenditure is £969, £121 higher than in 2022-23 and continuing an increasing trend since 2016-17 when spend per capita was £642. 

The planned net expenditure per capita is highest in Inner London at £1,312 and lowest in the East of England at £759. 

Children looked after (CLA)

The latest published information shows that the number of CLA in England increased by 2% between 2021 and 2022, continuing recent years' trend. 

In 2023-24 planned net expenditure on CLA is £6.1 billion, a 13.5% increase from 2022-23. Expenditure on CLA consistently forms the largest proportion of LA spending on children's and young people's services. It represents 53.7% of this expenditure in 2023-24, slightly higher than in 2022-23 (52.6%). 

Planned net expenditure increased across all categories for CLA, with the largest rises seen in asylum seeker children (71.7%), residential care (19.7%) and leaving care support services (14.7%). The latest data (opens in a new tab) published by the Home Office, shows an increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum seeker children applications between 2021 and 2022.  

Sure Start Children's Centres and Early Years Funding

Planned net expenditure on Sure Start Children's Centres and Early Years Funding for 2023-24 is £456.8 million, £13.4 (3.0%) million higher than in 2022-23. This reverses the trend seen in previous years, with increases in both funding for individual Sure Start Children's Centres (4.4%) and funding on LA management costs relating to Sure Start Children's Centres (13.0%). 

A full breakdown of all categories within children's and young peoples services for the financial year 2023-24 can be found in Table 5: Planned expenditure, income and per capita expenditure, by category, on children's and young peoples services, England, 2023-24.  A summary showing net planned expenditure, and expenditure per capita,  for all financial years since 2015-16 is shown in  Table 6: Total planned expenditure, income and net expenditure per capita, for children's and young peoples services, England, 2015-16 to 2023-24.  

Other children's and young people's services 

Other net planned expenditure within children's and young people's services includes family support, which has increased by 10.0% to £1.2 billion in 2023-24 and safeguarding services which has increased by 9.4% to £3.0 billion

For services targeted at young people, net planned expenditure on universal services increased by £16.2 million between 2022-23 and 2023-24. Universal and open access services are open to all young people, regardless of their circumstances or perception of vulnerability. Over the same period, targeted services for young people has increased by £2.1 million. Targeted services are those focused on supporting early intervention for vulnerable young people, including but not limited to those at risk of teenage pregnancy, substance misuse, youth crime and not being in education, employment or training.

Planned expenditure on early years education

As part of the Section 251 Budget return, LAs return details of their early years single funding formula (EYSFF), including 2, and 3 and 4-year-old free care entitlements. LAs also confirm their planned budget for the special educational needs (SEN) inclusion fund top-up grant, early years pupil premium (EYPP), and disability access fund (DAF).

Planned expenditure on early years education based on the EYSFF, for 2 year olds is £439 million, an increase of 8.7% from 2022-23. For 3 and 4 year olds the planned expenditure is £3.2 billion in 2023-24, also an increase of 8.7%. Since 2022-23, the number of funded hours increased for both 2, and 3 and 4 year olds; by 4.3% and 3.1% respectively. 

Planned expenditure for the most vulnerable groups of 2, 3 and 4 year olds has increased since 2022-23:

  • SEN inclusion fund for 2 year olds from the early years block increased by 16.4% and from the high needs block by 70.0%.
  • SEN inclusion fund for 3 and 4 year olds from the early years block increased by 10.2% and from the high needs block by 17.4%.
  • Disability access fund for 3 and 4 year olds increased by 14.8%.
  • Funding for early years from pupil premium for 3 and 4 year olds increased by 12.2%.

A full breakdown of all categories within early years planned expenditure for the financial year 2023-24 can be found under the explore data and files link in Table 7: Planned expenditure on early years, by category and age group, England, financial years 2017-18 to 2023-24.

A full breakdown of all categories within early years planned expenditure for each local authority for the financial year 2023-24 can be found under the explore data and files link in Table 8a: Planned expenditure on early years, for 3 and 4 year olds, for each local authority for financial  year 2023-24. The figures for 2 year olds are shown in Table 8b: Planned expenditure on early years, for 2 year olds, for each local authority for financial  year 2023-24

Planned high needs places and funding in maintained schools

As part of the Section 251 Budget return, LAs submit details of high needs places, the planned spending of which is included within the reported £2.0 billion planned expenditure (section “Planned expenditure on schools”). More information on high needs funding can be fund in the methodology associated with this publication. 

For the financial year 2023-24:

  • SEN (special educational needs) -  there were 99,700 planned places (September to March) with total funding for the financial year 2023-24 of £941 million. This is an increase of 3,670 places and £25 million since 2022-23.
  • PRU (pupil referral unit) - there were 13,380 planned places, with total funding for the financial year 2023-24 of £133.6 million. This is an increase of 200 places and an increase of £1.1 million in total funding. 
  • Hospital education - there were 1,450 planned places, with total funding for the financial year 2022-23 of £18.9 million.

A file containing high needs places and funding for the financial year 2023-24, for each school returned by a local authority as having funded places, is available under ancillary files. 

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