News - 25/10/2018

Deadline looms for school improvement bids

Academies and sixth forms are being urged to act soon if they want to get a share of a multi-million-pound fund aimed at helping to improve and expand facilities at more than 1,300 schools.

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Academies and sixth forms are being urged to act soon if they want to get a share of a multi-million-pound fund aimed at helping to improve and expand facilities at more than 1,300 schools.

The deadline for applications for the £514 million Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is fast approaching, and is expected to be heavily over-subscribed, according to national property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH).

The window for CIF bidding has now opened and the Department for Education’s (DfE) guidance for applicants wishing to submit in this round of bids has been published. The deadline for applications is 13th December 2018, with new applicants having to register by 30th November. 

Alex Manuel, associate building surveyor for LSH in Northampton, said the company has a wealth of experience and expertise in preparing and submitting successful bids on behalf of its academy clients.

This is done by getting to know clients’ particular needs and utilising its depth of building consultancy knowledge, alongside specific awareness of the education sector. 

Alex said: “As with other years, the funding pot is expected to be considerably over-subscribed and so a quantity of good submissions will be rejected due to the scale of demand. Therefore, only those who can demonstrate the highest project need, fully supported with evidence, and which align with the priorities of CIF, will stand a chance of being successful.”
Similar to previous years, the DfE has prioritised the following types of work into the top two categories:

Highest Priority:

- emergency and managed asbestos removal to facilitate essential works
- gas safety
- electrical safety 
- lift safety
- hot and cold water services and drainage
- ventilation / air quality and thermal comfort
- fire safety
- security and safeguarding
- this is in terms of legislation compliance and health and safety matters.

High Priority:

- building structure
- mechanical systems
- electrical systems
- utility capacity and connections
- this is in terms of those elements being ‘life expired’ where there is a risk to the school of an enforced closure.

While CIF’s main purpose remains to help academies and trusts keep their buildings safe and in good working order, with compliance and health and safety matters being given the highest priority, there are two new features for this year. 

These are:-

- Projects should refer to the Output Specification 2017 (OS) to help demonstrate that a minimum quality criteria is achieved.
- The Cost (value for money) element of the bid submission has seen its weighting increased.

Alex added: “The three main criteria of a bid remain the same: Need (60%); Cost (25%); and Planning (15%). Need retains the largest weighting of the criteria a bid is assessed against, despite this being reduced to allow Cost to have a larger proportion, and without this being fully considered a bid will not achieve the minimum threshold needed to secure funding. Therefore, appropriate condition, survey and reporting information is required to demonstrate the need.”

It is useful that the DfE has clarified that Condition Data Collection reports (a programme of surveys currently underway) is not considered a condition survey; it is designed to capture a basic level of data and be used to prompt further investigation. 

“As such, there is a responsibility on academies and trusts to ensure they are obtaining their own condition surveys and that this should be part of a long-term strategic view of how the estate is being managed and developed. How the work comprised within a CIF bid fits within this overview should also be emphasised. It is important for academies and trusts to develop a plan for their estate if this is not already in place.”

If you are considering a CIF bid and want to give yourself the best chance of success, please contact Alex Manuel or Peter Dalby to discuss your requirements and see how we can secure the funding you need


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