Navigating the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) for successful funding bids
It’s that time of year when academies nationwide are awaiting the outcome of the latest round of CIF applications, wondering whether they will have secured the funding to replace failing boilers or refurbish leaking roofs. Will it be a summer of Hi-Viz vests, noise and building works or just the local holiday clubs?
The outcome of CIF has always been eagerly anticipated by stand alone academies, small MATs and consultants alike, with the stakes high for all. For the schools there are bids in for essential works to keep the site compliant with various regulations and maintaining a safe and pleasant learning environment for the pupils. For the consultants, the outcome will dictate their workload for the subsequent 6-9 months.
In pre-pandemic years, the funding was typically released before the Easter holidays, but the last 2 years it has been July and June respectively. The logistical impact of the delayed funding, as well as cost due to the well-publicised increases in materials has been challenging for all but we have worked closely with the schools and contractors to find solutions for our projects.
At ECP we like to partner with our schools for the entire bid process. By offering our expertise and time at no upfront cost to the school, we become stakeholders in the process. Everyone involved in the CIF process is aware of the frustrations with unsuccessful bids and the feedback offered by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). We have extensive experience in preparing successful bids, so we understand which projects are more likely to receive funding and how best to manage these projects. In fact, we have an 83% overall success rate in securing funding for school projects in the last round of bids.
All of our bids are partner led from start to finish. This ensures continuity of the information and presentation in the supporting documents – from the initial report demonstrating the need through to the tendering and cost information.
The following are examples of some of the aspects of our involvement in preparing a bid. All of this information is collated and presented in the 3 supporting documents that are uploaded on the portal;
- Site wide building fabric condition review, and assessment of potential compliance issues
- Project specific report and co-ordination of further reports if required (asbestos survey, structural engineer, specialist mechanical / electrical)
- Collection of further evidence of need from previous surveys, CDC report etc.
- Production of site plans, photographs (including drone images) and drawings as required
- Design, specification and tendering of works to provide accurate costs for the bid
- Presentation of costs to demonstrate value for money
- Assist the school with providing a GEMS or other site management plan to include in the supporting documents
- Provide supporting information to demonstrate the project is contributing towards lowering carbon emissions on the school site
- Liaise with the recommended contractor to provide detailed programme to prove the project is deliverable
- Provide GANTT chart demonstrating milestones to date and the overall project
- Produce a detailed risk register to show that all project issues from procurement to site issues have been considered and mitigated
As both Chartered Surveyors and Architects we have a broad in-house skillset to assist with projects of all sizes, from roof and window replacement schemes to remodelling and expansion of the school site. If you would like any general advice on CIF, a review of previous unsuccessful bids or would like us to assist in making a CIF bid we would be pleased to come and see you.