CIF 2018-19 Guidance

The ESFA have now published their guidance for applicants for the 2019-20 round of Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).

CIF is directed at assisting schools meet their statutory compliance and health and safety duties and also at keep their buildings in good condition and provide a fit for purpose learning environment.

Parents and pupils decisions as to which school to attend are naturally influenced by Ofsted ratings, but also the provision and condition of the school estate.

The ESFA’s ‘hierarchy of need’ criteria:


  • Fire Safety
  • Gas and Electric Safety
  • Asbestos
  • Legionella,
  • Security and Safeguarding
  • Hot and Cold Water Supply and Drainage


  • Building Structure
  • Roofs
  • Windows
  • Mechanical Ventilation and Electrical Systems

It is once again estimated that approximately, 15% of the circa £435 million pot, will be allocated to expansion projects for those Ofsted rated good or outstanding schools who are over subscribed year on year.

This year the ESFA have identified two areas where they are advising applicants that their CIF submissions must evidence the quality and demonstrate value for money.

  • Applicants are advised to refer to Output Specification 2017 OS when specifying performance requirements, so that a minimum quality criteria is achieved.
  • The Value For Money element of the bid submissions is raised to 25%

Weighted Scores

Need 60%

Vale for Money 25%

Planning 15%

The ESFA is clearly looking for significant, but affordable contributions from schools towards the overall costs of their proposed projects, whether through their reserves or via the loans that are available to them.

Salix loans, for those projects with inherent energy saving elements and that meet payback criteria and also, via the Public Works Loan Board, where schools are afforded the same competitive low interest rates as their local authority counterparts. Schools repay the loan through its annual GAG, providing it meets an affordability test.

Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS) is cited in reference to the Planning element (15%) of the CIF application.

GEMS, encourages trusts to adopt a more long term, strategic approach to estate management and to demonstrate how the proposed CIF project fits in to its overall estate development plan and is not simply, an ad hoc speculative submission.

Despite the aforementioned tweaks and signposting for a more strategic approach, the actual Need element still remains the primary focus and is accorded 60% of the weighted criteria.

Without the need being captured and evidenced, the threshold for awards (76% for 2018-19) will not be met. It is very clear and welcome, that the ESFA have made explicit, that the Condition Data Collection Programme (CDCP), currently half way through its 22,000 school surveys, is not a condition survey and does not capture in sufficient detail, the evidence required to support a CIF bid. Rather, the scope of the CDCP, is summed up as a ‘prompt further investigation’.

Trusts must ensure they have an up to date condition survey and one that has captured the condition of their key fabric and components and graded them in the sector standard. A-D for Condition and 1-4 for Priority. The guidance notes make it very clear that any fabric or key component that has a life cycle beyond 2 years is very unlikely to be funded this time around.

Any school considering an submission will need to make sure they have sufficient survey reports, assessments and other supporting evidence to underwrite any bid. Where they do not, they will need to commission them with some haste.

Trusts and their their boards will also need to carefully calaculate the level of contribution they can afford, as failing to make a contribution, is highly likely to affect the overall score and may be the difference between award and non-award.

Good luck to all those parties currently collecting, collating, and costing ahead of the December deadline.

Key Dates:

Portal Help line opens 09.00 29th November 2018

Deadline to register 17.00 30th November 2018

Deadline for Submissions 12.00 (Noon) 13th December 2018

Outcome Announcement Easter 2019

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