After much anticipation, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) recently published details for the next round of the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF). These comprehensive guidelines highlight crucial details as to which type of CIF projects will be accepted and the assessment criteria for 2024/25.
The Different CIF Project Categories
CIF provides financial support to both condition projects and expansion projects. As with the last round of funding, the ESFA have categorised CIF projects into three types: condition projects, condition with expansion projects, and expansion projects. We’ve detailed more information on each of these below.
It should be noted that CIF primarily focuses on condition projects, where the condition of the building needs to be improved. Such projects will likely address concerns that may arise from age, and general wear and tear.
It’s expected most condition project applications will be to replace high priority components again. For example, if an older school or college has electrical installation issues and the building needs to be fully rewired. A condition project will, of course, ensure the facility is safe, compliant and/or energy efficient.
Condition with Expansion Projects
A condition with expansion project is where the building needs to be expanded to facilitate the improvement. It’s important to note that the gross internal floor area (GIFA) must be more than 10% larger than the existing area. Applicants must make sure this type of project meets the defined criteria that’s set out in the guidance. Otherwise, the application will be disqualified.
The ESFA allocate a smaller share of the funding to expansion projects. These are when high-performing educational facilities need to address issues with either overcrowding or to meet demand for places. Applications for expansion projects tend to be oversubscribed and can therefore be competitive.
New information for CIF 2024/25 emphasises that “expansion applications that increase capacity by less than 10% for an added places project, or where the existing number on roll is less than 10% over the capacity for an overcrowding project, will be disqualified.”
You can find more information for applications here as well as the full guidance from the ESFA.
CIF Applications for RAAC
Crumbling RAAC has dominated national headlines in the last few months. The crisis has impacted many schools across the country, forcing them to close altogether or at least partially. No doubt, many educational institutions are urgently looking to rectify this severe structural issue as soon as possible to avoid further disruption to students. As such, the ESFA has set up a separate fund to cover the cost of emergency work to address RAAC. Therefore, there’s no need to apply for CIF to fund work that mitigates the risk of concrete collapsing.
Funding for Urgent Issues
Should there be an urgent need for financial support to address an acute building issue, then applicants should instead refer to the advice for Urgent Capital Support (UCS). This is where the concern poses a severe safety risk, or the school faces imminent closure as a result of the problem.
If you need further support with your application for a CIF project, our experienced experts are happy to provide guidance! Munday + Cramer are an RIBA-accredited architecture practice and we have helped a number of educational institutions successfully secure CIF funding. You can get in touch with us here, call us on 01245 326 200, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.