Furloughing School Staff – Getting the Numbers Right

To Furlough, or not to Furlough?

On 22nd April 2020, the DfE issued guidance on the circumstances under which schools may consider furloughing staff whose salaries are paid from private income streams. Income from parents for school meals, breakfast or after school clubs, boarding fees in state boarding schools and lettings income are all examples of this. This applies to:

  • Local authority maintained schools.
  • Academy trusts.
  • Non-maintained special schools.
  • State funded boarding schools.
  • School-based nursery provision.

However, they also made it clear that schools should first try to make the necessary savings from their existing budget or consider redeploying those staff before claiming support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. There are conditions to be met which have been detailed by our Education HR team.

Budget Savings and Considerations

Before applying for CJRS funding, schools must first assess their budget savings and other funding considerations and compare that figure to the loss of income to see if there really is a need to make a claim. Savings- Reductions in other expenditure such as:

  • Food costs: dinners, breakfast and evening snack.
  • Fuel costs: not just due to no cooking but also general savings on electricity/gas/oil/water whilst school is not fully open.
  • Cleaning: less materials being used.
  • Curriculum consumables not being used.
  • Reprographics copy costs.


  • Whether government funding covers staff costs eg. for catering does UIFSM income plus FSM income cover catering staff costs (remembering you may not have paid for food).
  • In your trading accounts are you using your delegated budget to cover staff costs.
  • Affordability – can you afford to cover the costs from your reserves.

How Much Can You Claim?

Schools can claim from the CJRS the proportion of their total paybill which could be considered to have been covered by their private income; this means the Net pay for all staff employed in your school. You will need to complete a simple calculation which can be broken down into 4 steps:

  • Average monthly private income in total ie. (Dinner money + breakfast/after school club fees + lettings income) / 12.
  • Total monthly income = delegated income + private income.
  • (Average monthly private income / total monthly income) x 100 = claim percentage
  • Claim percentage x monthly Net paybill = maximum claim amount.

As long as the total monthly Net paybill (basic pay only) for all the relevant staff you wish to furlough is less than the maximum claim amount calculated, then you can include them on your claim.

How Much Will you get?

In line with the rules for the CJRS you will be able to claim for 80% of the basic pay for each relevant staff member up to £2500 per person per month, plus employers NI and employer minimum pension contributions.

Remember, you can backdate your claim from the date the staff you are claiming for no longer worked. It is imperative to make sure you are claiming the correct amount as the DfE is considering appropriate measures to monitor the use of this scheme in order to detect any duplication of funding, which will include potential options to claw back any overpayments.