As we recently announced, Lea Hough has helped to achieve almost £11 million in funding in the current CIF round for 2020/21, bringing the total attained over recent years to nearly £30 million.

We are always keen to speak to new prospective academy school clients, sixth form colleges, small Multi academy Trusts or non-diocesan voluntary-aided schools to see if we may be able to help them achieve CIF funding in the next round. Whilst we would always encourage these schools to get in touch with any queries they may have, we thought it would be useful to compile answers to some of the questions we are frequently asked.

What is the Condition Improvement Fund?

The Condition Improvement Fund, or CIF, is an annual bidding round for eligible academies, sixth-form colleges and non-diocesan VA schools to apply for capital funding.

What is the purpose of the CIF?

The main function of the CIF is to ensure that schools remain in good operating order and are safe environments for pupils and teachers. Although the way in which bids are assessed differs each year, as announced at the time the bidding round opens, in general, the highest priority is given to projects that look to remedy serious health and safety issues, such as asbestos removal, fire alarm installations or upgrades and improvements to electrical systems. Following this, projects that address issues of energy efficiency are considered next in line, with projects such as boiler plant replacement, central heating replacement, lighting improvements and window repairs.

Whilst the main purpose of CIF is to address significant school condition needs, the fund does support a small proportion of expansion projects, however, these will only be considered where the school can demonstrate a need due to a shortfall in teaching space. As an additional criteria, the school must have been rated as good or outstanding in their most recent OFSTED inspection.

What types of project are eligible for CIF funding?

The three main types of project that are eligible for CIF funding are:


Condition with expansion


In terms of project cost, there is a minimum threshold of £20k for primary and special schools, and £50k for secondary schools and sixth form colleges. There is a maximum project threshold of £4m.

Which schools are eligible for CIF?

CIF funding can be applied for by the following education establishments:

  1. Stand-alone academy schools
  2. Multi Academy Trusts (MAT’s) with less than 5 academies or less than 3,000 pupils
  3. Sixth-form colleges
  4. Non-diocesan voluntary-aided schools
  5. Schools with a signed academy order as of 1st September

How can schools apply?

The DfE have a dedicated portal for CIF applications. The basis of a bid application is made on a downloadable application form. When the application form has been completed, and all supporting evidence attached, it must then be uploaded and submit via the portal.

Can schools apply for CIF funding for more than one project in a year?

Each academy, sixth-form college or VA school can apply for funding for up to 2 projects per year. However, the rules stipulate that only 1 of these may be an expansion project.

Each project will be assessed independently on its own merit, unless the two projects are linked.  

So long as they remain eligible, schools can apply every year for CIF funding and can re-apply for the same project should they have been unsuccessful in a previous round. However, if a previous bid failed, there are probably reasons for this, so it is recommended that a review is carried out by a specialist school building consultant, who will be able to recommend improvements.

Free CIF Audit

If you have been unsuccessful with CIF bids in the 20-21 round, or are considering a CIF application for next year, our team would be pleased to offer a free audit to discuss your requirements and the possibility of obtaining CIF funding.

We have a proven track in helping schools prepare, submit and secure CIF funding.

Please contact us to speak to one of our specialists.

Preston Office
Telephone: 01772 458866
Blackburn Office
Telephone: 01254 260196
Clitheroe Office
Telephone: 01200 320040
Lancaster Office
Telephone: 01524 899850
Manchester Office
Telephone: 0161 265 0070
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
Registered Office: Oakshaw House, 2 Capricorn Park, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QR