Company which provides education services in Hertfordshire made loss of early £160k

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A company which delivers education and business services to schools and the county council made a loss of £158,626 in 2022/23, according to the latest published accounts.

Herts for Learning Ltd offers products, services and training to schools’ academies, early years settings and the county council in Hertfordshire and beyond.

Latest accounts, filed with Companies House, show that in 2022/23 the ‘not-for-profit’ company, owned and led by Hertfordshire schools and the county council, had a turnover of £23,798,637. But the company made an annual loss, after tax, of £158,626.

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In the previous financial year, 2021/22, the company recorded an annual profit of £225,992, even though it’s £23,343,514 turnover was lower.

The education provider for schools and Herts County Council reported losses for 22/23The education provider for schools and Herts County Council reported losses for 22/23
The education provider for schools and Herts County Council reported losses for 22/23

According to the report submitted to Companies House with the accounts, the overall loss is said to reflect the toughening financial climate felt by the company’s ‘customer base’.

It suggests their ‘pay as you use’ services failed to meet expectations – and that the loss reflects one-off costs to support the future development of the business.

It also highlights the greater expenses being incurred ,as a greater proportion of work is being delivered face-to-face.

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And it stresses the company’s focus on keeping prices for customers as low as possible.

“We are focused on trying to control expenditure and are absorbing supplier price inflation whilst minimising the price inflation that we pass on to our shareholder customers,” it states.

And it later adds: “The ever-tightening financial environment in which we operate continues to represent a challenge to our business, but our budget for 2023-24 and financial planning reinforces that our model is sustainable and robust.”

According to the report, the company has a strategy to enable the business to grow and to mitigate the risks that are prevalent in the education sector.

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This, it says, will include a focus on local customers while expanding digital services that can be delivered nationally.

Herts for Learning is majority owned by Hertfordshire schools, as well as Hertfordshire County Council. It was incorporated in 2013 and is said to operate with a not-for-profit ethos.

In a statement issued to the Local Democracy Reporting Service HfL chief executive Carole Bennett , who was appointed in May 2023, said HfL had “squeezed” its own margins.

“HFL Education is a trusted partner to almost every school in Hertfordshire and more than 3,000 schools and settings nationally,” she said.

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“Due to economic headwinds, such as increased energy bills, and falling birth rates, most of our customers are working with declining budgets – this means less funds available for optional training and development, support services and learning resources. It’s a tough market to be operating in.

“With school budgets under pressure, offering great value to our education customers is more important than ever.

“In 2022/23, we absorbed price inflation from our suppliers where we could. This squeezed our own margins, which are usually around 1-2 per cent as we are a not-for-profit organisation.”

She also pointed to the organisation’s investment in new services and in technology systems and processes to provide a better training experience for schools, education trusts and settings.