Top Tips for CIF Funding Success

The pressure on school budgets is widely known. With resources often being thin on the ground yet with a growing demand due to the pressure of school oversubscription, school budgets often do not extend beyond the realms of necessary maintenance. Yet, often, building projects such as extensions or block refurbishments would do so much to benefit the school and its pupils.

There are many ways and means that head teachers and Boards of Governors can attempt to obtain funding for both building and maintenance projects – from PTA fundraising to charity applications. Yet outside of their allocated budget, there may well be other sources of funding available for schools.

Due to the different ways in which schools are funded, the funding streams that are available do vary. For example, there are CE Diocese schools, RC Diocese schools, County/LCC schools, private schools, free schools and academies. Then there are sixth form colleges and also further education colleges. And then, there are multi-academy trusts (MAT’s) and clusters of schools.

Even within each type of school, the category of project that can be funded the available streams differ; for example, not all funding can be applied for on the basis of expansion and there are separate pots of money available for projects that will improve energy efficiency. Consequently, the picture around funding sources for education isn’t necessarily straightforward!

Here, we take a look at three different types of funding available and how a school building consultant can assist in the application process.


Diocese Schools

Schools within a Diocese, either Roman Catholic of Church of England, can apply for funding to the Diocese. Rather than each school being allocated a budget, the Diocese receives the allocation of money, and it is up to them how it is distributed amongst the schools within their Diocese – based on the needs and applications of each school. In addition, there are two additional sources of funding – DFC and LCVAP.

DFC is a small amount that is given to each Diocese on an annual basis. This is usually spent on relatively small-scale and straightforward projects.

LVCAP funding is more involved and is designed for larger, more complex projects such as extensions, remodelling and repairs / maintenance. As the fund is oversubscribed, appointing a school building consultant is essential to assist with the application can help to improve the chance of success. Applications usually need to be submitted to Dioceses in Nov / Dec.


Salix and SEEF funding

Salix and SEEF funding relates to projects that improve the energy efficiency of a school. For example, a school might undertake a lighting improvement project, whereby they replace the inefficient strip lighting throughout the entire block or even school with energy efficient LED lighting.  Other projects involving Salix and SEEF elements include energy efficient heating systems projects, and projects that involve better performing thermal insulation. The calculations involved when making a Salix or SEEF funding application can be complex so it is often worthwhile to instruct a school building consultant to assist.

Funding can be applied for at any time as a standalone funding application. Alternatively, Lea Hough has worked with several schools to obtain Salix and SEEF funding as part of other bid applications. Sometimes, Salix applications can be incorporated into CIF funding applications – see below.


CIF Funding

Academy schools, free schools, sixth form colleges and smaller Multi Academy Trusts (5 schools or fewer and under 3000 pupils in total) can apply for funding under the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF). There is one round of CIF funding each year that is usually launched in October and then closes for applications in December.

Eligible schools are able to appoint a consultant to research, plan and prepare CIF bids on their behalf. The consultant will be able to advise on the type of projects that can be applied for and will manage the process in its entirety on your behalf. For more detailed information, our blog on CIF FAQ’s provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions are this type of funding.

There are other funding sources that might be applicable – e.g. Sport England, and Healthy Pupils Capital Fund – although these may only be available for limited periods and for a narrow range of projects.

If the school you are involved in has a requirement for building or maintenance works, or other works that may improve energy efficiency, safeguarding, or the learning environment, it is worth contact a school building consultant, such as ourselves, to see if there may be funding available. In the majority of cases, seeking professional advice involves no upfront fee – with the cost of professional fees being built into the bid itself, with fees only incurred if projects are approved.

For more information, please get in touch with us.  Lea Hough Chartered Surveyors acts as consultants to all types of schools throughout Lancashire, and into Cumbria, Greater Manchester and The Yorkshire Dales.


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