The Authority will determine the basis upon which services from centrally retained funds (including existing premature retirement costs and redundancy payments) are provided to schools. The Authority will, wherever possible endeavour to do this in consultation with schools. The Authority will not discriminate in its provision of services on the basis of categories of schools except where this would be permitted under the School and Early Years Finance Regulations or the dedicated schools grant conditions of grant.
The Authority will limit the term of any arrangement with a school to buy services or facilities from the authority to a maximum of three years from the date of the agreement, and periods not exceeding five years for any subsequent agreement or extensions relating to the same.
Schemes for contracts for supply of catering services may be limited to a maximum of five years, with a maximum agreement of seven years if the contract is extended.
When a service is provided for which expenditure is not retainable centrally by the Authority under the Regulations made under section 45a of the Act, it will be offered at prices which are intended to generate income which is no less than the cost of providing those services. The total cost of the service will be met by the total income, even if schools are charged differentially.
The Authority will ensure that in providing any service on a buy-back basis that such services will be offered in a way which does not unreasonably restrict schools freedom of choice among the services available, and where practicable, this will include provision on a service-by-service basis as well as in packages of services. Services available to be purchased with delegated funds will be outlined in guidance from time to time (Reading Borough Council support services for schools).
Service level agreements must normally be in place by no later than 31st March to be effective for the following financial year and schools must normally have at least a month to consider the terms of agreements.
With the exception of centrally funded premises and liability insurances, if services or facilities are provided under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) (whether free or on a buy-back basis), the terms of any such agreement starting on or after the inception of the scheme will be reviewed at least every three years if the agreement lasts longer than that.
Services provided by the Authority will be available on a basis which is not related to an extended agreement, as well as on the basis of such agreements. Where such services are provided on an ad-hoc basis they may be charged for at a different rate than if those services were provided on the basis of an extended agreement.
For the purposes of the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme (TPS), local authorities are deemed to be the employers of teachers employed in maintained schools, whoever is the contractual employer. This brings with it the duty, under the Teachers’ Pensions Regulations 2014, to make data returns relating to contributions, salaries and service for the staff concerned to Teachers Pensions.
Schools must ensure that their contracts with third party payroll agencies contain proper provision requiring the agency to supply a monthly return of salary and service to the Authority and in the format as reasonably specified by the Authority. Governing bodies must also ensure that details of Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) are passed to the Authority within the time limit showed in the AVC scheme. Annex C sets out the full details. Where a revision to the contract involves increased charges then the additional cost is to be met from within the existing schools’ budget share.