Condition Improvement Fund (CIF)


The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is an annual bidding round for eligible academies, sixth-form colleges and VA schools to apply for capital funding. The priority for the fund is to address significant condition need, keeping the education provider building’s safe and in good working order. This includes funding projects to address health and safety issues, building compliance and poor building condition.

CIF also supports a small proportion of expansion projects where Ofsted has rated the school either good or outstanding and which need to expand their existing facilities and/or floor space to either:


  • increase the number of admissions in the main year of entry or
  • address overcrowding, including cases of recently approved age-range expansion and sixth form expansion.

The fund is administered by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) which is part of the Department for Education (DfE). Applications can be made through the CIF Portal.


Single academy trusts, small multi-academy trusts (MATs), sixth-form colleges and eligible VA schools can apply for CIF. To be eligible to apply for the next round, you must have been:

  • Stand-alone academy
  • Multi-academy trust (MAT) with fewer than 5 academies or fewer than 3,000 pupils
  • Sixth form college
  • Eligible voluntary-aided school
  • School with a signed academy order as of 1 September 2020 that the department expects will convert by 1 April 2021

MATs with 5 or more academies and more than 3,000 pupils cannot apply for CIF. These trusts will receive a School Condition Allocation (SCA) to invest across their estate for the coming year.


Applications for CIF funding need to be made via the DfE CIF Portal, where an application form can be downloaded.

The application form is where you can detail the urgent need for the project and attach supporting evidence.


At this point GEA can assist the school to give them the best possible chance of securing the necessary funding.


GEA have extensive experience in securing funding for Academy schools and have an enviable success rate in obtaining funding in recent years.

We work closely with our clients and their estates to identify the highest priority works.

GEA provide guidance and advice to our clients from the first initial consultation, to the final completion and ‘sign-off’ of the project, ensuring the process is properly managed and stress free.


Types of projects previously funded include:

  • Asbestos Removal / Reinstatement
  • Complete Block replacement, Classroom Extensions etc.
  • External Works including Playing Fields, Playgrounds etc.
  • Fire Safety (Fire alarms, emergency lighting)
  • Heating Systems (Boilers, Controls, Distribution)
  • Kitchen/Dining facilities
  • Roof Refurbishments
  • Safeguarding Improvements (Site security, gate automation, school entrance improvements)
  • Sports facilities
  • Toilet Refurbishments and Upgrades
  • Water Distribution Replacement (hot / cold water pipework and plant replacement)
  • Window / External Door Replacements

We will guide you through the whole process and submit comprehensive bids on your behalf, carefully targeting the ESFA guidelines, ensuring the best possible outcome.


Much of our bid writing is done FREE OF CHARGE giving a very low risk solution to academies who want to apply for funding, but do not have the time or technical knowledge to develop their own bids.


Our Fees become due only once funding has been granted for the project and is included in the CIF Bid costs.


Once appointed GEA will advise on the following, keeping a careful eye on the criteria set by the ESFA.


  • Early Appointment of a Consultant
  • End of October – Application window opens for following year.
  • End of November – Deadline for new applicants to register.
  • Mid December – Deadline for applications.
  • Spring – Applicants notified of outcome.

It is vitally important that the Consultant is appointed as soon as possible once a Project has been identified. To give them the best possible chance of completing all the necessary procurement work in advance, to dramatically increase the chances of obtaining the necessary funding.


There are 3 different types of project that are eligible for CIF funding. They are:

  1. Condition
    To improve the condition of the buildings, with no expansion of the gross internal floor area (GIFA).


  1. Condition with expansion
    Where the GIFA of the project is up to 10% larger than the previous block. Projects will be considered where the GIFA of the new block is over 10% as long as evidence is provided as to why there is no alternative.


  1. Expansion
    For high performing schools to create additional spaces or address overcrowding. The GIFA of the new block must be more than 10%, larger than the previous block or be adding new facilities.


The ESFA’s Highest priority projects are as follows, listed in order of importance:

  • Health and safety or safeguarding issues
  • Emergency asbestos removal
  • Fire safety works
  • Leaking roofs, cladding and window replacement
  • Heating and hot water systems.


Assessors will evaluate each project using the information contained within the application, and make a relative judgement, to award an overall project score. They will assess expansion projects by using school performance data generated from DfE centrally held sources, not just information provided by applicants.

Projects are scored against 3 assessment criteria based on the information submitted within the application form, and ‘weighted’ as follows:


  • Project need – 60%
  • Project cost – 25%
  • Project planning – 15%

Successful applicants will be those that demonstrate the most pressing need, but also where the project is properly planned and presents the best value for money.

The Application will also need to show that the project is ‘ready to go,’ with all the background work completed, in advance of the funding being granted.

GEA will use their extensive experience in submitting successful CIF Bids by carefully following the specific criteria set by the ESFA, to show that the project will be ‘ready to go’ once funding has been approved.


You may submit up to 2 projects per academy, sixth-form college or VA school, but only 1 of these may be an expansion project. You cannot apply for 2 expansion projects.

Projects will be assessed independently from each other, unless they are linked and there is no guarantee that if one project is successful, the other one will be too.


The ESFA highly recommends that a Condition Survey/Asset Management Plan (AMP) is carried out to assist CIF Funding Applications.

The AMP is an essential tool in determining the condition of the schools buildings and at the same time, provide the Schools Finance/ Business Manager with anticipated maintenance/refurbishment costs moving forward over 1-10 year period.

GEA can provide this service to sit alongside and support the CIF Bid Application.

Where appropriate, an independent suitably qualified person should carry out surveys containing specific condition grading and prioritisation ratings; condition grade A to D (from ‘good’ through to ‘bad’ condition) and priority rating 1 to 4 (from ‘immediate action required’ through to ‘work required in 5+ years’). The evidence must include the qualification of the surveyor.

Most applications require a condition survey or an extract of a condition survey applicable to the part of the building that the application addresses.


Multi-academy trusts (MATs) with at least 5 academies and more than 3,000 pupils receive a School Condition Allocation to deploy strategically across their estate to address their priority maintenance and expansion needs.

Working with the premises or estates managers, GEA can help you prioritise your allocation by fully understanding the current and future demands on your existing estate, and by putting the following structures in place:

  • A property maintenance and expansion strategy
  • An up-to-date assessment of the condition of your buildings and estate
  • A costed list of priority projects
  • A proper system to manage and administer your SCA run by trained staff.

Armed with a full understanding of your premises condition GEA will work with you to identify your short, medium and long-term defect priorities against your new building ambitions. as well as managing the projects that these improvements will require.


Urgent Capital Support (UCS) is for Academies, Sixth Form Colleges and eligible Voluntary Aided (VA) Schools that do not have access to SCA and require funding assistance to address urgent building condition issues, that either put the safety of pupils and staff at risk, or threaten the closure of the whole school, or a significant part of it.

UCS applications can be submitted at any time where there is a genuine and immediate need for urgent support.

Where UCS applications are received between October and April that are duplicates of any CIF application, then the CIF application may be withdrawn.

The application will need to provide evidence:

  • of a significant health and safety risk in relation to the building condition
  • that the condition issue has already resulted in, or represents an imminent threat of school closure
  • that the condition issue has resulted in or risks imminent closure of a significant part of the school building which would prevent the curriculum from being delivered
  • that the urgent works cannot be funded by the trust independently or through a CIF loan

Condition issues that may be in scope for funding include:

  • structural issues
  • urgent health and safety (H&S) or insurance compliance issues
  • urgent asbestos issue
  • fire protection
  • leaking roofs
  • boiler and pipework failure
  • electrical issues


The fund is available for academies, including those in MATs, who are looking to reduce utility bills through the adoption of energy efficiency programs or renewable technology.

Your project can be simple or complex, for example:

  • Heating controls,
  • LED lighting
  • Insulation
  • Boiler/heating system upgrades
  • Solar panels

The main criteria for applications is that your project must pay for itself within eight years through savings on your energy bills. However, if your project doesn’t quite meet the eight-year criterion but you have capital to put towards it to make up the difference, then you can still apply to the SEEF.

The Salix Energy Efficiency Fund (SEEF) was set up in partnership with the ESFA to offer interest-free government funding to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills in the public sector.


The employment of a Specialist Consultant who are Chartered Surveyors, to assist in the procurement and delivery of a building project, will dramatically increase the academies chances of securing funding.

FREE CIF CONSULTATION If you are an Academy Trust who has been unsuccessful with CIF in the last round of funding, or are considering a CIF application for next year, we would be pleased to offer you a free assessment of your requirements Please contact us on 01279 311413 or email us at .