11 March, 2020
The Government recently announced the extension of the availability of the Risk Protection Arrangement ("RPA") to Local Authority Maintained Schools. The RPA is currently only available to Academy Trusts. It commenced in September 2014 on an opt-in basis as an alternative to commercial insurance schemes to help reduce the cost to the public purse of protecting academies from risk. Prior to launching the RPA, the cost of commercial insurance to academies was £49.93 per pupil. Under the scheme on launch in 2014 the costs of insurance was £25 per pupil. A further reduction has been possible over time, reducing the costs per pupil to £18 for the 2019/2020 academic year. It is hoped that by extending the RPA to Local Authority Maintained Schools, the associated cost of insurance for those schools can be reduced.
In deciding whether to extend the RPA, the government consulted with various bodies such as Local Authorities, Governing Bodies of Local Authority Maintained Schools, Academy Trusts, the Church and other foundation and trust bodies, the insurance industry and suppliers of insurance services. 55% of respondents to the consultation supported the extension believing they could save money by opting into the RPA. 25% felt that the current commercial offering worked well and there was no need for change. The remaining 20% were unsure. However, this response was not evenly split between sectors, and there was a strong response from schools that an extension of the RPA would have a financial benefit for affected schools. As participation in the scheme is voluntary, extending the scheme would offer choice, reduce the cost burden and widen the offering of risk protection cover. Where the Local Authority and insurance sector offers good value for schools, they can continue with existing arrangements. Should they feel that they would get better value from the RPA, they can opt in from 1 April 2020. The government will continue to review the market and listen to Local Authorities to the impact it has on them over time.