Ever-growing strains on academy school budgets along with a recent increase in costs for building work means that many schools and colleges find themselves dependent on the government’s Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) to support vital repair and refurbishment work.
The 2021-22 round of CIF funding provided a total of £483 million to fund 1,466 projects at 1,199 schools. Although a substantial amount, the fund is always hugely oversubscribed, with many schools having missed out in the latest round. With competition so high, we provide advice on how to increase your chances of obtaining funding in the 2022-23 round.
Plan well in advance
You might feel like you have enough time to prepare your CIF Bid – but applications for CIF funding require a lot of work. In order to be persuasive enough, the bid will need to provide assessors with detailed evidence – including quotes from contractors. Obtaining all of the relevant information in enough time as well as allowing time to complete all of the other elements of the bid takes a concentrated effort by all involved.
Understand the criteria
In order to present the best possible case and put your bid in the best position, you will need to demonstrate how your project meets the requirements for the fund. The assessors are looking for slightly different things each year, so you will need to research the current criteria carefully and tailor your bid to meet these.
Bearing in mind that due to the level of competition, not all CIF Bids that meet the criteria will receive funding, additional information that shows how the proposed project would be serving a genuine need at your institution would be beneficial. Whilst general refurbishment to improve the aesthetics of your school may be nice, this is far less likely to get funding than a project that would, for example, dramatically improve thermal efficiency, help ease overcrowding, tackle health and safety, safeguarding needs, fire safety etc.
Appoint a consultant
It’s important for academy schools to appoint a school building consultant who has significant experience of working in educational environments. In addition to having experience of specifying, procuring and project managing large construction contracts at schools, it’s very important that the consultant is familiar with the CIF Portal system, which is the online application system that must be used when applying for CIF Funding. The Portal involves completing several forms and uploading multiple pieces of supporting evidence to justify the need for CIF Funding.
For more information on our CIF process, or to arrange a free site visit from one of our School Building Consultants, please get in touch.