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Condition Improvement Fund 2020/21 Bidding Round Is Now Open

29th October 2019

Condition Improvement Fund 2020/21 Bidding Round Is Now Open

The CIF 2020/21 bidding application window is now open. Barker Associates is one of the country’s leading education property consultants and secured over £26million in funding in the last round. 

Academies and Sixth Form Colleges across England can now bid for a share of more than £400 million to transform facilities, improve school buildings and create more good school places.

The multi-million-pound annual fund can be used by academies and sixth form colleges to expand classrooms, upgrade facilities such as sports halls or science labs, and address issues with the general wear and tear of school buildings.

CIF supports projects that address condition, compliance, health and safety issues and maintenance needs of academy and sixth-form buildings. These include fire protection systems, gas safety, electrical safety or emergency asbestos removal and projects to ensure weather tight buildings and continuous heating and water supply.

CIF also supports a small proportion of expansion projects, that address increase in the number of admissions in the main year of entry or address overcrowding including cases of recently approved age-range expansion and sixth-form expansion.

This year applications will be subject to new criteria which will favour bids from schools with good governance and organised finances – including showing restraint on executive salaries.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“This government is determined to give all children the best possible education, but as well as great teachers, we want all pupils to learn in classrooms that enable them to gain the knowledge and skills they need for success.

Following our huge investment in school funding with an increase of a total of £14 billion over three years, this year’s multi-million-pound fund will support our pledge to create more good school places and continue raising standards.”

The Department for Education have today launched the latest round of the Condition Improvement Fund – the last of which approved bids worth over £400 million to improve school buildings and expand academies and sixth-form colleges rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

The new criteria builds on a number of steps taken by the Government to bolster academy trust finances and clamp down on high pay – challenging 278 trusts over pay since 2017, with 51 academy trusts reducing top salaries as a result.

The strengthened criteria for next year’s Condition Improvement Fund will incentivise academies and trusts to improve finances and governance. Bids are assessed on a point-based criteria and applicants will get a four-point deduction if they pay two or more salaries in excess of £100,000 or one salary over £150,000 and have failed to take appropriate action in response to our high pay challenge. Alongside this, Academies Minister Lord Agnew has also introduced:

  • An extra point for applicants that have signed-up to the most recent government funding agreement;
  • Deductions of up to four points for applicants that have not submitted a financial improvement plan following a visit from a School Resource Management Adviser; and
  • Further scrutiny for successful projects worth more than £1 million.

All applications for the Condition Improvement Fund will be scored against the new criteria, with points added or deducted from the overall score. For unsuccessful bids, applicants will still have the option of applying for Urgent Capital Support to ensure their buildings are safe for pupils and staff.

CIF 2020/21 Milestones are: 

Registration deadline for new applicants 29 November 2019, 12 noon
Deadline for submitting applications 17 December 2019, 12 noon
Deadline for expansion project applicants to submit a significant change approval request (if applicable) to the Regional Schools Commissioner 17 December 2019, 12 noon
Date for notifying applicants of outcomes Spring 2020

 This year CIF applications will be subject to new criteria which will favour bids from applicants with strong governance and good financial management.

  •  Excessive Executive Pay (EEP) – Applicants that have been identified as having excessive executive pay, will have 4 points deducted for applicants based outside of London and 1 point deducted for applications based in London.
  •  School Resource Management Adviser Visits (SRMA) – Applicants that have received an SRMA visit but have not provided an appropriate response to the recommendations will have 4 points deducted. Agreeing to an SRMA visit will be a condition for all successful applicants that have not had one.
  • Financial Viability and Governance concerns – Applicants whose financial and/or governance viability is of concern to the department will have between 1 and 4 points deducted or conditions applied if they are successful. Educational providers not in an academy trust will also be required to submit financial information as part of their application and could be subject to a 4 point deductions.
  • Funding Agreements (FA) – Academy trust applicants who are on the newer versions of the model FA (December 2014 or later) will have 1 bonus point added during assessment.

In addition, ESFA have introduced a number of changes to their assessment approach that applicants should be aware of. These changes are:

  •  Introduction of Voluntary Aided (VA) schools - Non-diocesan VA schools who meet the CIF eligibility requirements can now apply.
  •  High value and expansion projects – successful projects of £1m or more and all expansion projects will be approved in principle, pending further review of deliverability and value for money.
  •  Post-16 – ESFA will review applications to expand Post-16 provision to ensure that these do not add to any local Post-16 surplus.
  •  Free Schools – Applications from free schools must confirm that the CIF project did not form part of the original free school project.

Further details, eligibility and checklist are available here 

CIF funding is highly over-subscribed, only projects that demonstrate a high project need and those that align with CIF priorities are likely to be successful.

In order to prepare high quality bids, it is essential that academies start this process as soon as possible. Contact us NOW to find out how Barker Associates can assist you to prepare a strong bid.

Barker Associates is one of the country’s leading Education specialist consultancies. We have a track record of preparing CIF bids and delivering successful projects that have made a real difference to the academies.