The CIF (Condition Improvement Fund) is an annual bidding round under which academies and sixth-form colleges can apply for capital funding. Available to all academies in England which do not belong to large Multi-Academy Trusts (5+ academies or 3,000+ pupils), the grant funding scheme is overseen by The Education Funding Agency (EFA) and allows successful applicants to obtain capital for building projects, which may include repairs, refurbishments, upgrades and replacement of services.
Lea Hough’s services in this area start with assisting schools and academies with CIF funding applications. In the first instance, we would visit the academy and provide an initial free-of-charge, no obligation consultation. From there, we would then conduct a full inspection of the school buildings and provide advice regarding maintenance and development funding opportunities. Where a suitable funding bid is identified, we would work with the Academy to prepare a tailored CIF funding application to give the best chance of success.
Under every annual round of CIF funding, criteria is set out by the EFA. When assisting with the preparation of bid applications, our team ensure that the relevant criteria are met, thereby increasing the likelihood of the bid being successful. Having worked in this area for a number of years, our team have gained invaluable experience in dealing with the EFA and have a good understanding of the types of project that academies can get funded. In previous years, our team have helped academies to gain funding for improvements to roofing, windows, science laboratories, kitchen/dining facilities, changing rooms, sports facilities and safeguarding projects, along with electrical upgrades, boiler and heating upgrades and projects relating to compliance issues – e.g. fire protection systems.
Projects that successfully obtain funding under CIF typically have 12 months to complete, although larger projects may be given up to 24 months to complete. As part of our service to academies, once we have helped to obtain funding, we continue to remain involved with the project to oversee it to its completion within the required timeframe.
Our project management service involves preparing a specification and undertaking a competitive tender process to appoint a contractor on the school’s behalf. From here we oversee the building works from start to finish, ensuring quality of workmanship and that all specifications are met to time and to budget.
Having prepared the CIF bid, and designed and specified the works, we are already invested in the project and know it inside out. This gives us the ideal position from which to represent the academy.
Academies can submit two bids for CIF funding each year.
There is a deadline for submitting applications – usually in December. The EFA thereafter consider all funding applications and inform academies the following Spring and most academies will aim to have works completed over the summer holidays.
Over the past 5 years, Lea Hough’s Schools and Academies team have successfully obtained £17.5 million of grant funding, with over a 80% success rate in the last round of funding.
As the CIF funding is oversubscribed and so competitive, the preparation of bids needs to be done with time and care. As such, it is never too early to start the process. If you would like to discuss making an application for CIF funding, please contact our specialist team here.