The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is an annual bidding facility to allow academies, sixth form colleges, free schools and Multi Academy Trusts (MAT) to apply for capital funding, in order to ensure that the school buildings that they occupy, are kept in good condition and that a safe environment is maintained at all times. Whilst there is the potential for a small proportion of expansion projects, essentially the fund is designed for projects which will address health and safety and building compliance issues.
Traditionally the application process begins in October of each year, with a deadline for new applicants to register of the end of November. The timescales for the detailed submission of the application itself usually extend up to early December, at which point the submissions are reviewed and candidates notified of the outcome in the spring of the following year. This compact programme is typically provided by the DFE, to ensure only the prepared and committed Academies submit bids, due to he highly competitive process.
In order to determine whether your Academy is eligible for the fund, then the Academy must not be part of a larger Multi Academy Trust with at least five academies and should have no more than 3,000 pupils.
Our experience of the fund is that the highest priority will be given to those works that address compliance and health and safety issues particularly considering items such as fire protection, asbestos removal and mechanical and electrical safety requirements. Further to this, there is generally a second tier of project requirement which will look at ensuring that properties are broadly weathertight and that at all times there will be a continuous supply of heating and water provided to the properties. When assessing the weather tightness of a property it is important to also bear in mind that the condition of the roof deck whilst appearing to be satisfactory, may contain inappropriate materials such as chipboard, which when wet can be subject to significant issues of collapse. We can arrange for free core samples to be undertaken to verify the construction of flat roofs, and if the insulation is saturated.
As part of the property assessment, there is significant benefit to be gained from considering the preparation of a Planned Preventative Maintenance strategy in order to create a base point against which a further programme of repairs can be generated. Essentially this document will look at how the repairs that are required to a property can be programmed into a five year period, categorising those works which are considered to be essential and providing estimated costs against the completion of the outstanding work. Once this document has been compiled then it can be used to formulate specific requirements for the CIF application.
Once a suitable inspection has been undertaken and potential areas of disrepair identified, then it is important to note that the minimum project threshold is £20,000 from primary and special schools and £50,000 for secondary and sixth form colleges. Thereafter, there is a maximum threshold of £4 million for each school type.
Following our huge success of secured bids in previous years, we’ve taken some time to review the elements identified as key successful areas. We’ve also taken stock of what we think future bid priorities will be. Our expert team can provide the information and expertise to support your successful bids so please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.