Guidance for chief financial officers (CFOs) on how to submit the DSG assurance statement and note to the accounts for the 2019 to 2020 financial year.


Local authorities have continuing responsibility for financial regularity in schools. The chief financial officer (CFO) of the local authority is responsible for making the necessary arrangements for local financial and management controls, under section 151 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Under these arrangements, the CFO must ensure that the grant monies for the dedicated schools grant (DSG) are used for the purpose for which they are intended. They must confirm this to ESFA by submitting a signed assurance statement that confirms the deployment of the DSG, along with a note to the accounts.

The conditions of grant for 2019 to 2020 set out the formal terms of grant given by the Secretary of State under section 16 of the Education Act 2002.

The deadline for submitting the assurance statement and note to the accounts for 2019 to 2020 is 12 January 2021. They should still be submitted even if the audit of the local authority’s accounts has not been completed by this date.

You will need to download the templates, and then submit completed returns, through Information Exchange.

Downloading and completing the templates

  1. Login to DfE Sign In.
  2. Access the Information Exchange portal, and select the ‘Document Exchange’ tab.
  3. Navigate to the ‘Local Authority – finance and payments – AY 2019 – 2020’ folder.
  4. Download the DSG assurance statement and Excel note to the accounts template.
  5. Print a copy of the DSG statement for the CFO to sign and scan in as a PDF.
  6. Populate the table in the note to the accounts spreadsheet.

There are 3 documents on Information Exchange:

DSG assurance statement completion guidance

Local authorities can use this guidance to help them complete the assurance statement.

DSG assurance statement

The CFO must complete this form to:

  • confirm the DSG received by the local authority in 2019 to 2020 was fully deployed in support of the schools budget, in accordance with the conditions of grant and The School and Early Years Finance (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2018
  • confirm, based on their work in reviewing individual placement agreements for high needs students in non-maintained special schools, that there is nothing to suggest that the learners were not correctly defined as high needs
  • report details of any fraud cases in maintained schools, and confirm what action has been taken to address the issue

The fraud section of the statement improves the transparency of information that local authorities already collect from maintained schools through the schools financial value standard (SFVS). We have added a footnote to the statement explaining the meaning of fraud in this context.

There is no requirement for the assurance statement to be audited, but the return may be subject to review by external auditors, at their discretion.

Excel note to the accounts template

Please fill in the table and upload the completed template to the Information Exchange portal following the steps below. The data is required in Excel format to enable data manipulation.

We use the information you provide in this return to populate a national spreadsheet. Please do not change the format of the DSG assurance statement or note to the accounts spreadsheet, as this will affect our validation processes.

Submitting the DSG assurance statement and note to the accounts

  1. Navigate to the ‘Local Authority – finance and payments – AY 2019 – 2020’ folder
  2. Select ‘actions’, followed by ‘upload content’.
  3. Browse for the signed PDF of the DSG assurance statement, and select ‘DSG Assurance Statement’ as the document purpose, when prompted.
  4. Repeat the process, and browse for the Excel note to the accounts, selecting ‘DSG Note to the Accounts’ as the document purpose.

We’ve published support and guidance for using the Information Exchange portal.

Specimen signatures

The signature on the statement will be checked against our records of specimen signatures for the local authority. If the person signing the statement has not previously supplied a specimen signature to ESFA, they should contact [email protected] to request a specimen signature template.

Additional information

If you have any questions about this return, or the process, please email us at [email protected].

Published 8 September 2017
Last updated 30 November 2020 + show all updates

  1. We have updated the guidance for submitting the 2019 to 2020 financial year return.

  2. We’ve updated this page with information about the submission for the 2018 to 2019 financial year.

  3. We have added information that for the 2018 to 2019 outturn statements, any local authority that holds a deficit of the DSG greater than 1% will be required to submit a recovery plan to ESFA.

  4. We’ve updated the information on how to complete and return the chief financial officer’s annual assurance statement to the Education and Skills Funding Agency for the 2017 to 2018 financial year.

  5. First published.