Munday and Cramer

ESFA CIF Funding: Changes for 2023/24

Struggling to understand the ins and outs of the new criteria for the next round of ESFA CIF funding? As professional bid writers for over 40 years, our team are always up to date with the latest criteria. What’s more, we also have an incredibly high success rate when bidding for CIF projects. 

Interested in knowing more about changes for the next round of CIF and how we can help streamline the process? Keep reading! 

Who are the ESFA?

ESFA stands for the Education and Skills Funding Agency. Part of the Government, the ESFA are responsible for deciding which educational facilities receive financial support and for which projects. 

In the last round of CIF, the ESFA granted £498 million in funding. This was spread across 1,405 projects at 1,129 different educational facilities. 

What is CIF?

CIF is the Condition Improvement Fund. The name is self-explanatory on what the fund is for; improving the condition of facilities. This fund is only available for academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary-aided (VA) schools. There are many different aspects to what the fund will cover, but the priority is on ensuring the property is safe for students and staff. 

Important changes to the ESFA CIF funding application criteria

Keeping up with the ever-changing ESFA CIF funding criteria can feel near impossible if you aren’t keeping a close eye on the updates. Even if you are keeping up, it is still a time-consuming process to apply for the funding. It’s for this reason that so many schools reach out to Munday + Cramer for help. To give you an idea of what has changed for the next round, however, our team have broken things down for you: 

Replacement of old boiler systems

As to be expected, the ESFA are pushing sustainability and decarbonisation even harder with the CIF funding 2023/24 applications. They have recently highlighted a new priority project type with a focus on replacing expired boilers running off coal or oil. Applications looking for funding to replace these will be favoured for this new round. That said, the main focus is still for projects with a high condition need, so don’t be dissuaded if this is not included in your project. 

This change in secondary focus is due to the plan to phase out these kind of boilers as stated in the Heat and Buildings Strategy. Off-gas-grid systems for non-domestic properties are intended to be phased out by 2024, giving schools only a short timeframe to replace their current boilers. For on-gas-grid buildings, the newer, natural gas systems will then need to be replaced by 2035.  

Within your bid, it’s vital that you show research and findings around the different types of heating systems. You should also pinpoint the best option for your school, taking into consideration the building fabric and location.  

Additionally, within your operations appraisal, successful applications will focus on considering zero/low-carbon replacement options. You don’t need to choose the most eco-friendly option if you have strong reasons not to but nevertheless, it’s important to show you have given this thought. 

Environmental Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

You should also provide evidence that your school is working towards being more sustainable in other ways too. The Environmental Sustainability statement criterion has been updated this year for you to include information on how your CIF project will improve environmental sustainability. You can also mention othe things that are done (or will be done) across the school estate. You can find the DfE’s strategy for sustainability and climate change by clicking here, which details future plans as well, if you are forward-looking and want to get ahead of the game. 

You may also be interested to hear that CIF funding can now be used as part of your mandatory contribution to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS). 


Applicants for the next round of ESFA CIF funding are required to show their consideration of the adverse impact on ventilation, should the project go ahead. There will be a section within the portal form where you can confirm you have contemplated this element. You will be able to go into more detail here too.   

For those of you who aren’t using an external bid writer, you can find some more guidance on how to improve ventilation safely here. This article discusses how to keep your project within the health and safety guidelines set by the HSE. There are lots of different types of ventilation and you will need to research which is best for your building envelope.  

The document linked above also details how to assess the risk of bad ventilation and how to know when action needs to be taken. Good ventilation will help to reduce the spread of respiratory infections like COVID. It will also help improve concentration, satisfaction, and motivation within your classrooms.  

Additional elements

In the CIF funding 2022/23 round, expansion projects were widely favoured. Now the ESFA’s priorities have shifted to sustainability, the weightings in the assessment for this has been changed. The maximum points you can score in this section is now 60. 

Additionally, the funding agreement bonus point has now been removed. Applicants no longer need to provide dates of when this was signed off. 

Why you need a professional bid writer

If this is your first time bid writing, you’re likely to quickly find this an extremely demanding and challenging task. The application process for ESFA CIF funding isn’t straight forward and one foot wrong could see your entire application in jeopardy. 

Here at Munday + Cramer, we are trained professionals across multiple disciplines. Not only do we specialise in bid writing, but we also have in-house experts covering the architecture, procurement, facilities, surveying, and project management sectors too. This allows us to create a well-rounded, detailed, and accurate application for funding. What’s more, we can even manage the works for you after a successful bid, should you need us to! 

Getting in touch

Looking into applying for ESFA CIF funding? Why not get in touch with our experts to find out more about how we can help with your application? To reach a member of our team, call us on 01245 326 200, or just click here.