“The Department has made progress in integrating financial management with its strategic and corporate planning. There is room for a better understanding of costs attributable to each of the Department’s strategic objectives. The Department could usefully consult further with delivery organisations such as local authorities to see what might be done here. It also needs to improve its management of financial risks, and to use the introduction of new finance systems to improve financial reporting and forecasting.”
In 2007-08 the Department’s expenditure totalled £48.9 billion and around £40 billion (82 per cent of the Department’s spending) was spent on schools or services to support schools.
The Department has built up a large capital underspend, which is around £2.4 billion at the end of March 2009. In 2007-08 the balance increased by £654 million to £1.9 billion and 2008-09 figures will show that this increased to around £2.4 billion by the end of March 2009.
Schools build up surpluses when they do not spend their full budgets and carry over the balances to future years. An excessive surplus is defined by the Department as being greater than five per cent of annual budget for secondary schools and greater than eight per cent for nursery, primary and special schools. At 31 March 2008 nearly 40 per cent of schools had excessive cumulative surpluses and 22 per cent had held an excessive cumulative surplus for at least the last three years.
Accruals accounting is an accounting convention under which transactions are recognised as the underlying economic events occur, irrespective of the timing of cash receipts and payments related to these transactions. Under accruals accounting, expenditure incurred or income earned, but not yet paid or received, are included in the accounts in the period when they were incurred or earned. This differs from cash accounting where income and expenditure are recognised when the cash is received or paid respectively.