Norfolk County Council draws on reserves to cover £3m education overspend

County Hall, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

County Hall, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Norfolk County Council has been forced to draw on reserves following a £3m overspend on its budget for sending children with special education needs outside the county, or to independent specialist provision.

The report to the Norfolk Schools Forum said the 2015-16 budget for this area was £13.1m, but at the end of the year it ended up with an overspend of 23pc.

There was also a £832,000 overspend on the special schools budget, representing 3pc of its £24.5m approved budget.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: 'These figures relate to the vital support we provide to children with some of the most complex needs in the county.

'While a budget is set each year, it is spent according to the needs of a child population, and that changes across the year in terms of numbers and complexity.

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'We plan as best we can. However we are currently experiencing an increase in the number of children with complex needs who require special school provision.'

A huge rise in the number of children being expelled from schools led to a £900,000 overspend in the council's budget for alternative education provision.

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The council drew more than £3.5m from its reserves to cope with the overspends, as well as using an £895,000 underspend in the 2015-16 budget for central schools spending, such as admissions and maternity leave, as well as £164,000 from the previous year's schools block underspend.

The council's spokesman said it hoped a current national consultation on school funding 'will mean that Norfolk budgets in future years will reflect the provision that we have had to develop', and it would continue to look for savings to offset increases in the specialist sector.

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