In order to both improve the quality of data and bring greater transparency about the activity of the sector, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has announced that from this financial year onwards, academy trusts will need to submit two Budget Forecast Returns (BFR).
What is this new process?
This new approach is expected to offer a greater insight into the activity of the academic sector, by splitting the return into two forms.
The first of these returns - the Budget Forecast Return: Outturn (BFRO) - looks to provide an updated forecast for the academic year and supports the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA), so that it can better report on expenditure across the public sector, and break it down by function. Academy trusts will be expected to report on actual expenditure up to March 2017 and forecast expenditure to the end of August 17.
This return must be submitted before the deadline of 19th May 2017.
Contact us now to book a visit for one of our consultants to fill out the returns on your behalf.
The second return – the Budget Forecast Return – will be the same as previous years and is due on the 28th July 2017. In this return, academy trusts are expected to forecast their financial position up to August 2018. This data is then used to support the main public expenditure forecasting activities that take place in the Autumn term.
Trusts will be required to provide the information on their 2016/17 financial year through the EFA’s new BFRO online template, available from early April. It will need to be completed on an accruals and prepayment basis.
Neither BFR’s will need to be reviewed by your external auditor.
So, who will have to complete this form?
All trusts that have been open as of the 31st March 2017 must complete the BFRO before the 19th May 2017.
Any trust that opens on or after the 1st April 2017 but before the 19th May 2017, will either have to submit their data on the 19th of May 2017, or within 6 weeks of receiving their final funding letter; depending on which date is the latest.
According to the EFA, the following organisations must submit the return:
- Sponsored Academies
- Free Schools
- Special Schools
- Studio Schools
- University Technical Colleges
- Academy Trusts
- Academy Converters
Important Note – the information submitted should only be relevant to the time where the organisation has been an academy, or where the trust has been open.
All trusts with more than one academy, must provide a consolidated return that combines the budgets of all its academies that were part of the trust before the 19th May 2017.
If an academy joins the trust after this deadline, they must be included in the trust’s BFR that is due on the 28th July 2017.
Don’t panic! We’re here to help!
The idea of an extra return may be daunting, but the EFA has looked at the 2016 BFR online form and improved and simplified the process to minimise the burden on academy trusts. The EFA have published a range of online guides.
If this still sounds like a terrifying ordeal for you, one of our consultants here at SAAF Education will gladly offer a hand and complete the form for you. The return will take around 3 hours to complete, if you would like us to support you with this, please give us a call or click the button below and we will contact you to discuss your requirements.