The statistical publication: ‘Local Authority and School Expenditure’ provides the latest information at national and local level on how local authorities spent their funding on education, children's services, and social care. Information is also included on school expenditure and school revenue balances; this section was added on 11 February 2021.
For this publication, the previous fixed-format tables previously published have been replaced by a series of machine-readable files which, in conjunction, with our new online platform, Explore Education Statistics, provide flexible outputs to the user’s requirements. The contents of the publication are similar to what has been published before and cover the following broad themes:
Local authority spending on education services
This publication provides a time series showing local authority spending on education services by phase and sector where applicable. This also includes spending on the community budget.
Local authority spending on children’s and young people’s services
This publication provides a time series showing local authority spending on children’s and young people’s services by type of provision (own, private, voluntary and other public sector provision)
The income and expenditure of local authority-maintained schools in England
This publication provides a time series showing school income and expenditure and per capita statistics for local authority maintained schools in England by phase of education.
School revenue balances
This publication provides a time series showing detailed school revenue balances statistics by phase of education.
The latest release updates and supersedes the previous statistical release; the full back series can be found on gov.uk.
The financial data published here is the main source of information on expenditure by LAs and local authority maintained schools. It is used as the main source for comparisons of LAs and their expenditure, and how they fund their schools. It is also used to enhance the evidence base used to support decision-making within the department and is used to support policy decisions relating to services to children and young people.
This document aims to provide information on the methodology involved in the production of this data – from collection through to publication – and information relating to the quality of the statistics.
Please note that all figures are presented in cash terms and are not adjusted for inflation.
This publication will initially contain only information taken from the Section 251 Outturn collection. The collection of Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR) was moved from the planned collection in summer 2020 to the autumn term 2020, this was due to school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. This publication will be updated later in February to include information taken from the CFR data collection. This will ensure that the information from Section 251 Outturn will be released in a timely manner.
Please note that the data presented in this release relates to the 2019-20 financial year (April 2019 to March 2020) and, therefore, relates to expenditure by local authorities before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on local authorities and schools in England.
The statistics published in ‘Local Authority and School Expenditure’ are taken from 2 sources:
Section 251 (Outturn)
Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR)
Section 251 (Outturn)
All local authorities are required to make a Section 251 (Outturn) return to the Department for Education. This details their income and expenditure on education and children and young people’s services. The Section 251 Outturn Return covers spending on all schools, education, children’s and young people’s services by LAs.
Information on the collection of Section 251 (Outturn) statements can be found here.
The guidance linked to above also contains a full explanation of each expenditure category within the Section 251 Outturn.
The information submitted relates to the last full financial year.
Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR)
All schools that were local authority maintained in the 152 English local authorities at any point during the 2019-20 financial year were required to make a CFR return, or their local authority can make the return on their behalf. The consistent financial reporting (CFR) framework provides a standard template for schools to collect information about their income and expenditure by financial years, which maintained schools provide to their local authorities in a financial statement each year.
Information and guidance for the 2019-20 collection can be found here.
The DfE publish academy school finance data separately. Local authorities report their finances using a standard financial year (April to March), while academies report on a financial and academic year of September to August. Since the data relate to different time periods, the two are not directly comparable.
Data are loaded directly into the department’s bespoke data collection system; COLLECT (Collections On-Line for Learning, Education, Children and Teachers).
Both the Section 251 Outturn and CFR data pass through several phases of checking and data cleaning. The CFR and Outturn data that are loaded into COLLECT are subject to a pre-agreed series of validation checks to aid the submission of accurate data. Extensive guidance and support is provided to schools and local authorities to help them ensure the data they provide is as accurate as possible. The guidance aims to reduce the impact of any local variations by collecting data in a consistent format and by having extensive phases of checking and sign off. Links to guidance are provided in the data sources section of this document.
The data presented here form a time series from 2014-15. Over the years there have been small changes in the collection to account for changing reporting priorities.
For Section 251 (Outturn) the main changes are:
In 2019-20, a section was added authorities to provide a breakdown of their expenditure against each of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) blocks, central school services, early years, high needs (after deductions for academy and post school high needs place funding) and schools (after academy recoupment).
High needs place funding within Individual Schools Budget – this was placed into a separate category in for the first time in 2018-19. It was previously included under Individual Schools Budget (ISB) (after academy recoupment).
Infant class sizes - income and expenditure on this category was introduced in 2018-19.
Fostering – expenditure on fostering services was split from 2018-19. The category was split into Fostering services (excluding fees and allowances for LA foster carers) and Fostering services (fees and allowances for LA foster carers).
School improvement – income and expenditure on this category was introduced in 2017-18.
Therapies and other health related services was placed into a separate category under the High Needs Budget in 2016-17. Previously this was collected as part of the Other Education and Community Budget.
For Consistent Financial Reporting the main changes are:
Income from facilities and services - this was split into income from letting premises and other income from facilities and services.
Bought-in professional services – this was split into Bought-in professional services - other (except PFI) and Bought-in professional services - other (PFI) from 2018-19.
Where these changes in data collection mean a break in the presentation of time series data the relevant sections are marked as not available for years where the data was not collected.
The data collected in the data collections is used to update the time series data in the publication and to create the latest data files. No further data is expected to be received from schools and local authorities.
Number of LA maintained schools
The spend, on schools, by LAs is significantly affected by the number of schools which have become academies, and that number has continued to increase. This fall in LA maintained school numbers means that it is not possible to make like-for-like comparisons of expenditure on schools between years; all year on year comparisons in the publication are therefore limited to non-school expenditure.
The number of LA maintained schools making a CFR return, by phase, is shown in figure 1.
Figure 1: Number of local authority maintained schools, 2014-15 to 2019-20 financial years
(based on number of schools making a CFR return)
Per Capita Spending
In order to report on LA spending in a meaningful way, the data presented within this statistical release includes a number of ‘per capita’ measures - this is the amount of budget allocated divided by the number of people it is earmarked for. This ‘per capita’ figure is derived using the Section 251 Outturn Return data with a number of population sources, depending on the sub-category of the planned expenditure being looked at.
For funding lines that are only targeted at pupils, the funding has been divided by the number of FTE (full time equivalent) pupils in the relevant school types taken from the department’s School Census, AP Census and Early Year Census information. The School Census pupil numbers for each year are taken from the January within the relevant financial year.
Funding lines that cover all children within the LA (regardless of school attended) use ONS population estimates for children of school age. The latest published data set was published on 24 March 2020, and relates to mid 2019. This is used in this publication.
Children and young people’s services
Expenditure data is provided by all 152 local authorities in England and covers their own expenditure across 4 sectors:
Own provision – this is expenditure on services which are provided or managed by the authority.
Private – this is expenditure on services which are provided or managed by private sector entities such as profit-making companies.
Other public – this is expenditure on services provided or managed by public sector entities such as other local authorities and other public providers. This includes services provided by health organisation such as primary care trusts.
Voluntary – this is expenditure on services provided or managed by third sector entities such as voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, cooperatives and mutuals.
Funding and Funding Reform
The majority of the schools budget comes from DfE through the following routes:
The Dedicated Schools Grant – funding to LAs to support maintained schools in their area. Traditionally, LAs in England receive money from the DfE for pre-16 education in the form of the Dedicated Schools Grant.
Grants paid direct to academy schools. For example, the General Annual Grant, and Start Up grants for new academy schools.
Pupil Premium – funding to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
LAs combine the money they receive from DfE, along with other funding streams, to generate their total budgets for the financial year and allocate budgets to all schools in their area based on locally held funding formulae. Academy schools receive their funding directly from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) within DfE (rather than through the LA). Where a school converts to academy status part way through the year, the new academy may be classed as a recoupment academy.
Recoupment is a method of adjusting a dedicated schools grant to take account of the conversion of a maintained school into an academy. From 2017-2018 onwards this also includes new provision academies and free schools from their date of opening. Further information is in the Academies and dedicated schools grant: recoupment guide.
Mapping between the data shown in previous publications and the 2019-20 data tables
Interactive data sources and downloadable data files
Data for previous years was published on the gov.uk website here. Last year’s data were largely presented within the Excel workbook: LA_and_school_expenditure_2018-19_Tables.xlsx
This Excel workbook comprised tables 1 to 12 of the release. In the new format, the data items from this workbook and its tables have been consolidated into five individual data files. Here we detail which of the previous data tables are contained within which of the new format files.
S251 Schools Expenditure (National, Regional, LA levels)
Table 1 – Schools expenditure by sector (schools section only)
Table 2 – Detailed income and expenditure statistics for local authority spending on children and young people's services in England
Table 6 – Expenditure statistics for all local authority education and children's services by local authority and region
Table 7 – Expenditure by local authority (CYPS section only)
Table 9 – Net expenditure on children's and young people's services by local authority
CFR Detailed School Income and Expenditure (National, Regional, LA levels)
Table 3 – Detailed school income and expenditure statistics for local authority maintained schools in England by phase of education
Table 4 – School income and expenditure and per capita statistics for local authority maintained schools in England by phase of education
Table 10 – School income and expenditure statistics for all local authority maintained schools in England by phase of education by local authority and region
CFR Detailed School Revenue Balance Statistics (National, Regional, LA and School levels)
Table 5 – Detailed school revenue balances statistics by phase of education
Table 11 – School level revenue balances for all local authority maintained schools by local authority in England
CFR school level revenue balances 2015-20 (ancillary data file)
Table 12 – School level revenue balances for all local authority maintained schools
Additionally, in order to provide improved continuity, we have created a number of highlight tables (available from the table creator tool), which recreate the previous Excel-workbook data release as faithfully as reasonably possible. Here we detail which of the previous data tables have some elements continued within which of the new format highlight tables. Note that some previous tables have been split into multiple tables, whilst others have been consolidated into single tables.
The highlight tables can be downloaded either as Excel spreadsheets or in Excel readable character separated values (csv) format. The Excel worksheets currently retain the formatting of the web-based table (including unit characters), whilst the csv format provides the data in a formatting free, un-pivoted form. Note that where the million unit character is included (e.g. £27.65m) in the Excel worksheet form, we recommended removing these using the following formula to transfer the contents of each cell to a new cell:
where B2 is the relevant cell containing the formatted version value. This can then be combined with copy and ‘paste as values’ to quickly produce numerical characters without the formatting character.
S251 Schools Expenditure (National, Regional, LA levels)
New highlight tables
Table 1 – Schools expenditure by sector (schools section only)
Table 1: Expenditure on schools by sector in England (2019-20)
This information has not been collected or there are no estimates available at this level of aggregation.
N/A = Not available:
This is normally where a statistic cannot be produced. For example where a denominator is not available to produce a percentage.
c = confidential:
Where presentation of data would disclose confidential information, for example being able to identify details about a single respondent, this data must be suppressed and given this marker to maintain confidentiality clauses. In the previous standard there was a separate category for suppression. Discussion with ONS Statistical Disclosure Control Unit confirmed that reasons for suppression would either be for confidentiality purposes or low reliability, and these are now separately identified in this list of symbols.
u = low reliability
This indicates observations/values for which the user should be aware of the low quality, for example where values of statistical significance have been calculated. The use of the 'u' depends on the context, therefore additional information, e.g. explanations about the reliability limits applicable, should be provided in the notes. z = not applicable The 'z' symbol is only to be used when an observation is not applicable (e.g. in tables of employment where people under 16 cannot legally be employed).
In addition, when reviewing the files, please note the following:
We preserve confidentiality.
The Code of Practice for Official Statistics requires we take reasonable steps to ensure that our published or disseminated statistics protect confidentiality.
Numbers are rounded
Financial data is shown as £ million, rounded to 1 decimal place. Expenditure per capita is shown to the nearest whole 3. All calculations are carried out on unrounded data.
We have adopted the following symbols to help with identification.
There was one planned revision to this Statistical Release. This was the release of information taken from the CFR data collection which was added to this publication on 11 February 2021. The collection of Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR) was delayed from the planned collection in spring/summer 2020 to the autumn term 2020. The collection closed in mid October 2020. This was due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. As a result the publication of data was delayed.
The Section 251 data shown here is final data and will not be subject to revisions.
When looking at expenditure by local authorities, there are some caveats which should be noted. The first is the number of schools maintained by the LA over time. While all LAs have seen a decrease in the number of LA maintained schools due to their conversion to academies, 2 LAs show larger decreases than others. Both Kingston upon Hull and Thurrock have seen large decreases in the number of LA maintained schools, with the total number of LA maintained schools decreasing from:
Kingston upon Hull – there has been a decrease from 45 LA maintained schools in 2014-15 to just 8 in 2019-20.
Thurrock – there has been a decrease from 20 LA maintained schools in 2014-15 to just 5 in 2019-20.
Salford has seen a large year-on-year change in expenditure on children’s services in 2019-20. Expenditure on 3.3.2 Commissioning and Children's Services Strategy has increased by over 600% between 2018-19 and 2019-20. This large change was flagged as part of our validation process. The LA was contacted and confirmed that this change was correct.