Guidance

Dedicated schools grant assurance: guidance for local authorities

How to complete and return the chief financial officer's annual assurance statement to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Local authorities should submit the dedicated schools grant (DSG) assurance statement, and notes to the accounts, for the 2016 to 2017 financial year to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) by 31 October 2017.

Prepare the annual return

ESFA will upload 3 documents to information exchange:

DSG assurance statement

The chief finance officer must complete this form to:

  • confirm the DSG received by the local authority in 2016 to 2017 was fully deployed in support of the schools budget, in accordance with the conditions of grant and the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2015
  • confirm, based on their work in reviewing individual placement agreements for high needs students within non-maintained special schools, nothing has come to their attention that causes them to believe that the learners reviewed were not correctly defined as high needs students (those whose additional support costs more than £6,000 over an academic year)
  • report details of any fraud cases in maintained schools, and confirm what action has been taken to address the issue

The fraud section of the statement improves the transparency of information that local authorities already collect from maintained schools through the schools financial value standard; we have added a footnote to the statement giving an explanation of the meaning of ‘fraud’ in this context.

DSG assurance statement completion guidance

Local authorities can use this guidance when completing the DSG assurance statement.

There is no requirement for the assurance statement to be audited, but the return may be subject to review by external auditors, at their discretion.

CIPFA notes to the accounts guidance

Local authorities must include a copy of their published notes to the accounts with the DSG assurance statement.

CIPFA has produced guidance on completing the notes to the accounts, ESFA will provide a copy on the information exchange portal.

Complete and submit the annual return via information exchange

  1. Login to Secure Access
  2. Access information exchange, and select the ‘Document Exchange’ tab
  3. Navigate to the ‘Local authority (xxx), finance and payments, AY 2016 - 2017’ folder
  4. Download the DSG assurance statement, and print a copy for the chief financial officer to sign
  5. Sign the DSG assurance statement, and scan in as a PDF (the chief financial officer must provide a wet signature, we cannot accept electronic signatures)
  6. Prepare a PDF copy of the notes to the accounts
  7. Navigate to the ‘finance and payments, AY 2016 - 2017’ folder, as before
  8. Select ‘actions’, followed by ‘upload content’
  9. Browse for the signed PDF of the DSG assurance statement, and select ‘DSG CFO Statement of assurance’ as the document purpose, when prompted
  10. Repeat the process, and browse for the PDF of the notes to the accounts, selecting ‘Notes to the accounts’ as the document purpose

ESFA populates a national spreadsheet from this return; please do not change the format of the DSG assurance statement or include hyperlinks, as this affects our data input and validation processes.

Support and contact information

If you have any questions about this return, or the new process, please contact us via our online enquiry form.

Background

Local authorities have continuing responsibility for financial regularity in schools. The chief finance officer of the local authority is responsible for making the necessary arrangements for local financial and management controls, under section 151 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Under these arrangements, the chief finance officer must ensure that the grant monies for the DSG are expended for the purpose for which they are intended. ESFA has published the formal terms of grant given by the Secretary of State under section 16 of the Education Act 2002.

For the 2016 to 2017 return, local authorities must upload a chief finance officer signed assurance statement that confirms the deployment of the DSG to the information exchange portal; we will not request an email copy of the assurance statement from the chief finance officer.

Published 8 September 2017