The work of the Trust is financed by a ‘central fund’ contribution from the academies, with the level of contribution determined based on the resources required above and beyond administration and management costs. This contribution will not exceed 5% of school budget shares. The range of functions provided by the ‘central fund’ is detailed in our Financial Considerations section.
The Chief Finance Office (CFO) is held to account by the Trust’s Accounting Officer (CEO) and the Board of Trustees through the challenge and scrutiny of the Finance, Audit, Risk and Estates Committee.
Finance, Audit, Risk and Estates Committee
The Finance, Audit, Risk and Estates Committee is comprised of a sub-group of Trustees (including the CEO and CFO as invited guests). The Committee ensures robust internal scrutiny, effective financial controls and compliance with all relevant legislation and guidance (including the proper use of public funds). By reporting to the Board of Trustees, the Finance, Audit, Risk and Estates Committee are able to provide the Board with assurance that risks are being effectively identified and managed.
The governance structure and financial controls framework of the MAT are designed to meet all the requirements set out by the ESFA through the Academies Financial Handbook.
Financial controls, processes and reporting
Monthly management accounts are produced and shared with Trustees, and the CFO attends Board meetings and presents the management accounts to the Trustees. These management accounts represent the consolidated financial position of the MAT’s academies, each of which are supported in the production of monthly monitoring reports. Budgets are produced for each academy, and the consolidated position for the MAT is presented to the Board for approval and adoption as the Trust’s budget. There will continue to be particular and enhanced scrutiny of these monthly accounts as schools join and as the Trust expands.
A scheme of delegation is in operation to ensure appropriate authorisation of expenditure, in order that the Trustees can be assured that monies are being properly used. Additionally, a procurement framework is used to ensure economy, efficiency and value for money, which is compliant with the public procurement framework.
We operate through sound financial controls and processes to identify any weaknesses and risks to the financial sustainability of the model. Extensive and broad due diligence work is conducted before schools are admitted to the Trust, to identify any financial risks. Plans are put in place to mitigate any risks identified during due diligence work, and schools need to adhere to those plans following admission to the MAT.
A set of financial KPIs, monitored at school-level on a monthly basis, provides an early indication of schools where the financial position indicates vulnerability. On admission to the HfL MAT, schools accept that, where KPIs are not met, the Trust’s central team will intervene and provide additional decision-making capacity and financial support to the appropriate academies.
Academy-level 3-year financial forecasts (consolidated at the MAT level) enable the Trustees to plan for the financial future of the HfL MAT. Three-year plans are presented annually to the Finance, Audit, Risk and Estates Committee and to the Board of Trustees, as part of the budget approval process.
The Trust takes a strong strategic approach to analysis of demographic and pupil data enabling it to proactively plan for changes in the forecasts of the numbers of pupils on each school’s roll.