The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) can provide vital funding to help ensure schools and academic buildings are up to standard. Due to the high demand for this funding, however, approximately only one third of applicants are successful each year. Only applications that address priority improvements whilst closely aligning with the CIF guidance will be successful. Although the 2024/2025 round is yet to be confirmed, it’s never too early to start considering your bid. Here’s a quick roundup of everything you need to know!
Who Can Apply?
Depending on their size and type of institution, schools can either be eligible for CIF, or School Condition Allocation (SCA). Larger schools directly receive SCA to invest into their buildings and maintenance priorities. Smaller ones, on the other hand, can bid for CIF. In accordance with CIF guidance, to apply for funding, you must be either:
- A stand-alone academy.
- A sixth-form college.
- A multi-academy trust with fewer than 5 schools or fewer than 3,000 pupils.
- A voluntary aided school with fewer than 5 schools or fewer than 3,000 pupils.
- A school with a signed academy order that expects to convert by the following April.
What Projects Are Eligible for Funding?
Due to the high demand for CIF funding, projects that address compliance and health and safety issues are prioritised. A few examples of these cases include:
- Structural safeguarding improvements
- Fire protection systems
- Gas and electrical safety
- Emergency asbestos removal
- Expansion of successful schools to address overcrowding
- Replacements of non-renewable boilers with low carbon heating alternatives
CIF Guidance for Preparing Your Application
According to the Department of Education’s CIF guidance, your application must clearly communicate the problems your school faces. It must highlight the impact these issues have on teaching, learning, and student and staff safety. All of this must be supported by detailed evidence conducted by professional surveyors like those at Munday + Cramer. With this in mind, what can you do to ensure your application hits every nail on the head?
Ensure Any Evidence is Clear and Focused
It’s important to remember that the person assessing your application will likely have never set foot in your school. That being said, make it easy for them to understand the issues you’re facing and show why funding cannot wait.
Include Independent Evidence
This is one area where many applications often slip up. You need surveys, reports, photographs, and technical plans to support your application, and they must be conducted independently. This evidence should encompass the specific area you’re applying for funding for.
Show the Cost of Doing Nothing
When preparing your application, always show what the cost of not receiving immediate funding could be. This illustrates the project’s urgency and increases the likelihood of success.
Include Detailed Costs
Show that you’ve done your research. Be certain of your costs, including multiple quotes from relevant sources to obtain an accurate figure. Also, don’t underestimate these figures. It may seem tempting to downplay the extent of work needed, but this can seriously put the project’s success at risk.