A Detailed Look At The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) 2021/2022


It seems like only yesterday that the announcements for the 2020-2021 CIF results were being published, but here we are again, having gotten around to next year’s application opening. With finances as stretched as they currently are for many within the education sector, the prospect of any additional funding is most certainly a welcome one.

The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) has become a mainstay of the Government funding circuit, with its offerings helping many schools and academies to carry out vital maintenance, structural repair works and even to help with some expansion projects (though CIF capital cannot be used in the purchase of land). To find out about the fund in more detail, read our previous blog post here. Today, though, we’ll be looking specifically at this year’s application criteria.

Important Dates To Remember

The nature of the fund and its applications mean that, although we’re not even into 2021 yet, application deadlines are already quickly coming around. With that in mind, below are several key dates that those looking to apply for funding will want to note down at this point:

  • 12th November 2020. The Condition Improvement Fund 2021/2022 was officially launched.
  • 10th December 2020. Deadline for new applicants to register for an account.
  • 14th January 2021. Deadline for application submission.
  • Spring 2021. Applicants notified of CIF outcome.

Eligibility Criteria For CIF 2021/2022

The eligibility criteria CIF 2021/2022 remains largely unchanged from previous years, with the following establishments all able to secure potential funding:

  • Stand-alone academies.
  • MATs (multi-academy-trusts) with either; a) fewer than 5 academies or b) fewer than 3000 pupils.
  • Sixth form colleges.
  • Certain VA (voluntary-aided) schools.
  • Schools with signed academy orders expected to convert by April 2021. It’s important to note that if the school hasn’t converted by this time, funding will be withheld until the conversion has taken place (up to September 2021; if conversion still hasn’t taken place beyond this, funding will likely be withdrawn entirely).

Eligible Projects

What projects, then, are suitable for CIF funding support? Eligible projects will fall into one of three set categories: Condition, Condition with expansion and Expansion.

Condition

These are (arguably) the simplest projects to fall under the funding’s criteria. Condition projects are simply those seeking to improve a building’s condition, as opposed to expanding the gross internal floor area (GIFA) in any way. Condition projects might include one of the following:

  • Heating/boiler replacements.
  • Electrical rewiring.
  • Safeguarding improvements.
  • New water pipes system.
  • Block refurbishment.

Condition With Expansion

These are projects that, whilst featuring expansion work – with a new block’s GIFA up to 10% larger than the previous block – they’re still primarily geared around improving a building’s condition.

Expansion

Expansion project applications are submitted on the grounds of addressing problems of overcrowding. Sufficient evidence must be provided within the application that no other alternative is viable. The GIFA of the expansion must be more than 10% than the facility’s previous area. Expansion projects which aren’t intended to result in an active increase in pupil numbers are instead termed “Overcrowding Projects”.

It’s important to successfully and accurately identify the kind of project your facility requires, first time around. A failure to do so (that’s to say, where a project has to be re-categorised) will result in an application that’s very unlikely to be successful. That’s why planning and application support is so imperative, so that you get things done as correctly as possible, from the off.

What Will A Good CIF Application Look Like?

With funding as competitively sought after as it is, you need to ensure that your application is as good as it possibly can be. What this means, in practice, is as follows:

  • Detail is key. Whether it be in the costings, planning or the provision of external approvals, we’ve found that the key to successful bid applications is in the level of detail applied.
  • Don’t underestimate costs. Clearly, you don’t want to ‘bite off more than you can chew’, so to speak, but underestimating contingency makes you much more likely to go over budget. Similarly, be completely objective about how affordable your proposed CIF loan repayments realistically are.
  • Provide as much independent evidence and support as possible. Qualified technical advice, whether in the form of a surveyor’s report, engineering report or otherwise, lends a great deal more credence and strength to an application.

Previous Successes

Below, you can find links to Munday + Cramer’s CIF application successes from previous years:

2020,

2019,

2018

Contact Munday + Cramer

So, if you’d like to find out more about the Condition Improvement Fund applications for 2021-2022, then get in touch! As you can see above, Munday + Cramer has offered extensive application support for several years now, securing funding for a wide variety of educational establishments. Contact us today on 01245 326 200 or by emailing us at info@mcessex.co.uk.