CIF is capital funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and is available to all Academies and Sixth Form Colleges.

The main priority of CIF is to improve the condition of buildings and to ensure that buildings provide a safe environment for learning. A smaller proportion of funding is allocated to the expansion of buildings.

Who Can Apply?

  • All open Academies and Sixth Form Colleges
  • Academies in Multi-Academy Trusts with less than 5 Academies and less than 3000 pupils.
  • Schools with signed Academy orders

What Types of Projects Are Eligible?

There are three categories of CIF projects:

  • Condition
  • Condition with Expansion
  • Expansion

Approximately 80% of the total CIF funding is allocated to Condition projects each year.

Project Thresholds

CIF projects must aim to improve capital assets held in freehold or in long lease, which are used for educational provision for pupils between the ages of 2-19. CIF cannot be used to purchase land.

The following thresholds are applied;

School Type Minimum Project Threshold Maximum Project Threshold
Primary and Special Schools £20,000 £4,000,000
Secondary, All-Through and Sixth Form Colleges £50,000 £4,000,000

Which Condition Projects Have Priority?

The ESFA have prioritised projects as follows with the highest priority projects most likely to receive funding.

Highest – Asbestos removal, gas and electrical safety, lift safety, legionella, fire safety, safeguarding

High – Building fabric (weather tightness), Mechanical and Electrical systems (heating and water supply)

Medium – Building fabric (internal refurbishment, toilets, kitchens, classrooms), Mechanical and Electrical systems (not heating and water supply)

Low – Energy efficiency improvements (insulation, lighting)

Lowest – Access improvements (DDA), non-teaching building fabric, non-teaching Mechanical and Electrical

Expansion Projects

CIF will only fund expansion projects where demonstrable growth is clear. Evidence must include existing building floor areas and how this relates to any shortcomings against recommended areas in Building Bulletin 103 & 104, the numbers of pupils on roll, published admission number, numbers of 1st and 2nd choice applications and total admission numbers.

Over-crowding of teaching space must be clearly identifiable along with demonstrable high pupil demand.

Schools which are Ofsted Outstanding are prioritised for expansion as are those with a high proportion of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Condition With Expansion Projects

These are to improve the condition of buildings where the floor area of the new block is less than 10% of the existing block. This is primarily to address significant condition need and valid reasons for expansion will be required, in line with the above.

Making An Application

All applications are made online via the CIF portal and new applicants need to register on the portal in the first instance, when log in details will be provided.

Each Academy or Sixth Form College can submit up to two applications but only one expansion bid may be made. Bids are assessed separately and independently.

Condition based bids must be supported by relevant condition survey data with reference made to the Property Data Survey (PDS) for the school/college. Independent specialist building or mechanical and electrical surveys, targeted to the specific condition need, should be included.

Each application is evaluated using three main criteria with the following weightings applied:

Project Need (evidence of poor condition) 70%

Project Planning (ability to deliver to project) 15%

Project Cost (appropriate cost range / value for money) 15%

Recommended supporting information would include, condition surveys, asbestos reports, planning applications (where required), budget costs with supporting contractor quotes/tenders, programmes, risk registers and considered option appraisals.

Supporting Loans

Whereas there is no obligation to take out a loan as part of any bid, the ESFA do score additional points, under the Project Cost criteria, where loans are taken as part of the bid process. There are two types of loan available to applicants under CIF;

  • Energy Efficiency Salix Loans (0% interest, payable back over 8 years via realised energy savings -projects would include; boiler replacement, window, curtain walling, wall cladding and roof replacement)
  • CIF loans (variable interest rates depending on duration of loan)

It is important that Academies satisfy themselves that they can afford any loan repayment prior to committing.

Healthy Pupils Capital Fund (HPCF)

In the latest CIF round, the ESFA supplemented the overall CIF fund with additional funding taken from the recent Soft Drinks Levy. This funding is specifically included to improve the physical and mental health of young people by improving access to, and use of, relevant facilities such as kitchens, dining rooms, changing rooms, playgrounds and sports facilities. This additional funding is likely to be continued in future funding rounds and is applied for in the same manner as a CIF bid.

Important Dates

(Taken from previous funding rounds)

CIF information released and online application open October

Registration deadline November

Closure of CIF portal for applications December

ESFA notification of bid success/failure April


All previous CIF rounds have been heavily oversubscribed. Only applications which demonstrate high project need, supported with evidence, and which align with the priorities of CIF are likely to be successful. Not all good applications are funded, simply due to the scale of demand.

If you would like to speak to someone about any of the issues raised in this article please contact Mark Honeywell.

Useful links:

Director – Building Consultancy 
Lambert Smith Hampton
E-mail: Direct – 0191 338 8283

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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