Merry CIF-Mas everyone…

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The Condition Improvement Fund

Academy School Capital Funding Stream

Submission Deadline, 12.00 Thursday 14th December.

Several thousand eligible academy schools will currently be preparing compliance and condition evidence to support applications to the DfE for vital capital works projects to ensure their buildings are safe, warm, dry and wherever possible include energy saving measures to reduce their costs and carbon footprint.

After the fall in the number of CIF awards by 25% and the evident closer scrutiny of submissions, it was clear that this year, schools themselves would need to provide greater evidence of the impact the failed roof, boiler system etc were having on the schools ability to deliver its core curriculum and use of its Devolved Formula Capital (DFC).

The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) provides much needed funding injections to schools whose resources cannot otherwise stretch to large value projects such as fire safety works new heating systems and roof renewal programmes.

Those academy trusts with less than 5 schools and 3,000 pupils on roll do not automatically receive guaranteed annual formulaic capital funding via the School Condition Allocation (SCA), instead they submit bids for essential works that are over three times oversubscribed.

The competition between competing academy schools is fierce as the stakes are high. Successfully awarded projects, value on average over £400,000.00 with some over a £1 million, which can transform a schools estate and markedly increase the quality of the teaching and learning environment.

Those schools who are not successful, will face further classroom disruption and potential school closure until treasury funds are found to address the aged and life-expired building fabric and components. The impact on morale, teacher and pupil retention and risks to reputation and Ofsted ratings are also considerable.

The DfE have stated that costs relating to addressing the RAAC issue will not come from the CIF pot, many schools will be hoping that their crumbling estate can survive another winter of leaking roofs and burst pipes and that in Spring, their bids will be successful.

Schools submitting bids will be hoping that the DfE have successfully lobbied government to increase the CIF pot in line with inflation and that the published list of successfully awarded projects, will return to the circa 1,400 that were the norm before 2023s drop to 1,033. Conversely, if the CIF pot remains static, the number awards could fall as low as 800, which would equate to a drop of over 40% in just two years.

Tim Warneford, Director, December 2023