The Condition Improvement Fund 2024-25

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Warneford Consulting is preparing for the latest Round of Condition Improvement Fund outcomes

The DfE is soon to publish details of which school’s projects will be awarded to address urgent compliance and condition needs through the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).

The funding stream is the only route available for eligible academy school trusts to secure large capital investment to address a range of building issues that pose risk to life and school closures.

Approaching its tenth year, the DfE has traditionally allocated approximately £450 million which has often funded around 1,400 projects. However, last year only 1,033 awards were made against a backdrop of double-digit inflation. This reduction in the number of awarded school projects equated to a drop of almost 25% resulting in a loss of 400 projects that would in previous years have been funded.

CIF is always heavily oversubscribed, each school is permitted to submit two bids per annum and over 4,000 applications are made each year, with a high proportion of unsuccessful applications resubmitted in subsequent years.

Schools have limited reserves and an annual Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) allowance that is all too quickly subsumed for basic repair and maintenance needs, resulting in further dilapidation of the works that their CIF bid had been premised on. The roof that was previously leaking will, a year on, likely to have caused further internal damage after a further rainwater ingress.

Schools and their consultants are anxious that unless the DfE increases this year’s CIF allocation, the number of awarded projects could fall below 900, which would then represent a fall of 36% and another 500 vital projects not being delivered.

These unfunded school building schemes will continue to pose a risk of life to staff and pupils from non-compliance of existing systems such as fire safety and the removal of asbestos containing materials. Risk of school closure will also remain from broken heating and hot water systems. School’s fear further disrupted lessons will impact on the attraction and retention of staff and further exasperate pupil absenteeism.

Given the age, condition and dilapidation rates of the 22,000-school estate, the estimated backlog funding required to bring buildings to a fit for purpose teaching and learning environment, including the estimated costs for RAAC removal stand at over £15 billion, the estimated costs to remove gas and decarbonise the school estate is in excess of that figure.

To listen to the latest podcast where Tim discusses the CIF forecast for 2024 with Gary Pleece of Bear Creative, click here