Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of Finance & Business Operations Committee
Date 16th May 23
Time 5.33 pm
Minutes Membership G. Mills (Chair), J. Staniforth, P. Tucker and R. Wilson.
In Attendance Member of the Senior Leadership Team:
P. Partridge, Executive Director of Finance (EDoF)

D. Meeson, Sub-Contracting Manager
Clerk to the Board, T. Cottee
Apologies J. Hoyland and N. Stitch.

21/23. Declarations of Interest


22/23. Minutes of Meeting Held 21 March 2023 (Appendix – Agenda Item 3)

Resolved:  That the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 March 2023, be approved as a true and correct record. 

23/23. Matters Arising

FBO Min. No. 13/23.- Period 7 Management Accounts and Mid-Year Budget Update.

In response to a question, the EDoF confirmed that the reported issue of a minority of businesses not engaging with the Digital Apprenticeship Service was being actively managed by the college apprenticeship team through a monthly review of outstanding balances and a programme of interventions to encourage engagement.

24/23. Subcontractor Management, Retained Funding Policy 2023/24 (Appendix, Agenda Item 7)

The Sub-Contracting Manager presented the Draft Policy (previously circulated) for review prior to recommendation to Board.

The P/CEO explained that the Draft Policy was a compliance document drafted in accordance with National Guidance; the minimal changes to the Draft 2023/24 document were explained.  

The volume details would be added to the Draft Policy on the finalisation of the Draft Budget.  The college’s Financial Plan would include a clear rationale for the approach to sub-contracting to provide assurance to the Board on the volumes proposed.  

The Committee concluded that the Draft Policy was clear and comprehensive.  

RESOLVED:  It be RECOMMENDED TO BOARD that the draft Sub-Contractor Management and Retained Funding Policy 2023 – 2024, be approved.

ACTION:  Item to Board 

25/23 Period 8 Management Accounts (Agenda Item 4)

The Committee considered a verbal update and presentation on the Period 8 Management Accounts (previously circulated) in which the EDoF highlighted the key results, measures, and 2023/24 key challenges and risks.  The Accounts had been circulated to all governors.

The key changes and developments since the Period 7 Management Accounts included:

      • Forecast Apprenticeship income had been further reduced.  £50k of new starts or higher achievement was required to achieve the revised target/forecast position. 
      • Forecast Education contract income had increased to recognise SDF2 and other ongoing one-off income which had been held back pending confirmation of amounts due to be claimed at the end of the financial year.  
      • Pay costs had been revised downwards - assuming no further cost of living awards were made in respect of 2022/23.
      • Forecast Exam costs had been substantially increased to reflect exam fee charges had been increased by the main awarding bodies and the increase in the number of entries for vocational qualification exams.
      • Forecast Catering, Estates maintenance and waste disposal costs (included within IT& Premises costs) had been increased to reflect existing expenditure run rates.
      • Forecast Marketing expenditure had been increased to reflect one-off costs in respect of the implementation of a new system designed to improve communication. 

Regarding cashflow – 

      • The overall position had been improved by the receipt of the T Level Specialist Equipment Allowance which must be spent by 31 December 2023.  
      • Cashflow assumed the Capex funding would be spent by July 2023. The EDoF confirmed that planning for this was underway; however, cashflow timing might potentially be delayed.

The EDoF provided an update against the key assumptions in the initial 2023-24 Plan and goals set as part of December 2022 Review.

In response to questions:

      • Regarding increased exam costs, the P/CEO explained that - 
        • the college was working to understand to what extent the increases were due to timing or other factors and was reviewing the college’s approach to when students were entered for exams and resists, to ensure the best value for money and maximised the chance of students achieving the best outcome.
        • Whilst mindful of achieving the best value, the college chose awarding bodies that best supported its curriculum offer.  There were also significant administrative and quality compliance barriers to changing awarding bodies.
        • Some vocational provision, which historically used only assessment offered by the college now included an examination element, resulting in higher fees charged by the relevant examination boards.  
      • Regarding the pay savings, the Committee sought assurance that student experience and the quality of teaching and learning would not be compromised.  The EDoF explained that the review of curriculum planning and teaching staffing was largely complete, with planning reflecting demand rather than an increase in group sizes, teaching hours for individual teachers or student support. The P/CEO confirmed that, where need was proven, additional costs would be included in the 23/24 Plan.  Regarding Non-Pay, the savings target was considered achievable.

The Committee Chair referred to the recent letter from the ESFA regarding the outcome of its review of the college’s Financial Statements 2021 to 2022 and the latest Finance Dashboard (previously circulated).

The Committee agreed that the presentation made to the Committee also be circulated to all governors and discussed how to support other governors’ understanding of the management accounts and financial information presented to the Board.  It was agreed that a development session on the Management Accounts be included in the July Board meeting, with contributions from the Committee members giving their perspective on what they looked for and what questions they asked to gain assurance. 

26/23. Capital Bid – Verbal Update (Agenda Item 6)

The EDoF presented a verbal update on the capital bids being pursued by the college.

      • The college had been unsuccessful in the recent Post-16 Capacity Funding Round.  This was disappointing and the consultants commissioned to write the Bid submissions was undertaking a review.
      • The outcome of the T Level Bids was awaited.
      • The EDoF and P/CEO were working to deliver the Welsh Bridge Campus: Relocation of the Learning Resources Centre from the Quarry Building to Priory Hall and expansion of teaching space in the Quarry Building project ready for September 2024.

27/23. Risk (Appendix - Agenda item 8)

The Committee examined those risks within its remit and agreed that they had either been identified and adequately discussed at the meeting.  The latest 2022– 2023 Strategic Risk Register would be presented to the Board at its next meeting.

28/23. Date of Next Meeting – Tuesday, 28 June 2023 at 5.30 p.m.  Venue - tbc.

The meeting concluded at 6.58 p.m.