CIF Bids - Frequently Asked Questions

BLOG: CIF Bids – Frequently Asked Questions

In our role as consultants to academy schools and sixth form colleges, we advise and assist in making applications to The Education Funding Agency (EFA) for Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) bids.

Having been working in this area for a number of years, and to date having secured over £11 million of funding for schools and academies across Lancashire and Cumbria, we have a great deal of knowledge and expertise.

When academy schools initially approach us to assist them with funding bids, there are usually some key questions they have. In this blog, we provide the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding CIF bids.


1. Why appoint a consultant?

Some Academy schools are used to applying for money from different sources and so feel that they are able to take it upon themselves to apply for CIF funding. However, CIF funding is such a rigorous process and it’s highly unlikely that, without the support and input from a professional building consultant, a CIF bid would receive approval of funding.


2. What is involved in a CIF bid?

The EFA set specific criteria and there are many requirements of a CIF bid. These include:  evidence of need for the project, deliverability and value for money. In order to prove evidence of need there’s usually a requirement for survey reports or risk assessments and other supporting documents, which can only really be prepared by qualified professionals. Knowledge of the procurement of building contracts is also required as firm prices are needed from contractors based on a design/specification. Additionally, programmes of work are required to show deliverability, and often knowledge of SALIX funding is required. As several of these forms of evidence require professional input, most academies opt for the appointment of a professional consultant to increase their chances of approval.


3. What is the fee for a CIF consultant?

The good news for academy schools is that there is no upfront fee for appointing a consultant to prepare a CIF bid. Instead, when preparing a CIF bid, a detailed breakdown of costs is submitted and this includes contractor’s costs for managing the building project – a role which we would assume – as well as the professional consultant’s fees. As a consultant we would never charge fees that are extra after the CIF bid has been approved. In the bid application, other costs are usually included such as contingency sums and allowances for asbestos removal/surveys. All such costs are captured at bid stage, so if a project is approved by the EFA, then the costs will be as per the application.


4. Who can apply?

For CIF funding, individual academy schools (either junior schools, middle schools or high schools) can apply.  Small Multi-Academy Trusts (MAT’s) can also apply, provided that they do not have more than five academies and 3,000 pupils within the Trust. MAT’s who have more than five academies and 3,000 pupils are not eligible to apply, but receive funding by other means. As well as academies, free schools are entitled to apply, and so are sixth form colleges (not Further Education colleges).


5. Can we apply for CIF funding to build and extensions?

The CIF funding criteria can change from year to year but the situation for previous years has been that extension projects (referred to in the Guidance as ‘expansion projects’) can be applied for, only academies who have an outstanding OFSTED rating will score highly for expansion projects.  An application for an extension involves an assessment of existing space, in comparison with space requirement guidelines (Building Bulletin 103), to demonstrate that an extension is warranted. Such assessments can be prepared by your professional consultant, provided that they have knowledge of educational systems and guidance.


6. What is SALIX?

SALIX relates to energy conservation and savings on energy bills going forward.  SALIX loans can be taken out as a contribution towards a CIF funded project, to give a CIF application a better chance of being approved.  SALIX is intended to be “cost neutral”, whereby the school doesn’t pay any extra in the long run, but the SALIX element is equivalent to the expected energy savings over the coming years.

For example, if a flat roofing project was applied for, it would be necessary to include thermal insulation within the build-up of the flat roof in order to meet current day Building Regulations. This thermal insulation would improve the energy performance of the academy school. Therefore, the school would be expected to make allowance within their CIF application for a SALIX element. SALIX calculations can be complicated, but supposing that the school would save £1,000 per year in gas/heating bills because of the improved thermal performance of the new roof, the school would be expected to make a SALIX contribution of (minimum) £8,000 – i.e. £1,000 per year for 8 years. Similar energy savings should also be obtained in relation to central heating/boiler replacement projects, giving such projects a much better chance of securing CIF funding approval.  The SALIX element involves detailed application forms as part of the CIF funding application, hence why it is important to appoint a professional consultant who understands the SALIX aspects.

This blog covers just some of the questions we are frequently asked in relation to CIF bids. If you have any further questions you would like to direct to one of our specialists in this area, please contact us.

Lea Hough has extensive experience in preparing funding applications for development or maintenance works through funding streams including the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF). Acting as consultants to academy schools, sixth form colleges and small multi-academy trusts, our team have obtained over £11 million of funding for schools and academies across Lancashire and Cumbria in the past four years alone.



“We had a Schedule of Condition carried out on a Commercial Property. From vacant possession to our proposed completion date we were really tight on time. Gary managed to carry out the inspection and write a very thorough report in the time needed to ensure we hit our completion date. The price of the report was also extremely competitive. I would recommend Lea Hough to anyone looking for a Professional Surveyors with excellent service & communication at a competitive price.”

Danny Ambler - Fuse Contract Furniture, Blackburn