Writing bids for funding can be a tricky job. It’s a long, complicated, time-consuming process that you may not have any experience with. You may be asking yourself, “What do all these questions mean?”, “Will my project be seen as a priority?” “Do I even stand a chance of receiving the funding?” and, “How do I know if I’m allowed to apply?”
Well don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re here to help you understand a little more about what the CIF is, and how outsourcing your bid writing can save you valuable time, and increase the chances of your bid being successful.
What is the Condition Improvement Fund?
The CIF is an annual bidding round that allows academies and sixth-form colleges to apply for capital funding that will pay for keeping buildings safe and in good condition.
If you’re a high-performing academy or sixth-form college – with a “good” or “outstanding” Ofsted rating – you can also apply to the CIF for support on expansion projects to help you increase your admissions or reduce overcrowding.
Intended to address issues with significant consequences – the removal of asbestos and ensuring fire safety, for example – the CIF is ideal for cases where Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) or other funding cannot help.
Projects that are more likely to get accepted demonstrate a high priority need and are well supported with evidence and relevant documentation.
What's the application deadline?
The next round of funding for 2018 -19 academic year will open in the autumn term. As a result, it is vital to start gathering information for your application soon.
While the timetable hasn’t yet been released, in previous years the deadline for registration has been November with all bids submitted in December.
Who can apply for the next round of CIF?
To be able to apply for the CIF, you must first fall under these specific guidelines:
- Be an open academy or sixth-form college as at 1 September 2017
- Be a school with a signed academy order as at 1 September 2017 (if successful, you must have converted to academy status and have a funding agreement in place by 31 March 2018 to receive funding)
- You must NOT be part of a multi-academy trust which has 5 or more academies and more than 3,000 pupils.
- You must also NOT be part of an opted-in chain that is receiving formulaic funding.
For multi-academy trusts with 5 or more academies, you will receive a formulaic allocation that can be used across all the academies throughout the financial year.
Confused? Don't panic. Click here to see how SAAF can help!
What projects can you bid for?
The funding is provided for a variety of different projects, giving high priority to areas that could affect the health and safety of staff or pupils.
All projects are scored against 3 assessment criteria: Project need, project planning and value for money.
The highest priorities go to projects that address:
- Fire safety
- Emergency asbestos removal
- Gas safety
- Electrical safety
- Lift safety
- Insulation/ draft proofing
- Accessibility improvement
- Refurbishing car parks or play areas
- Improvements to small teaching environments
- Building fabrics, such as, external sports equipment stores
So before applying for the CIF, it's worth evaluating the needs of your project. If it falls on the lower end of the spectrum, it may not be wise to spend all the time and effort it takes to apply.
How can you increase your chances of CIF success?
Most school business managers don’t have the time to apply for the CIF. I’m sure you’d agree, there is never enough time in the day, so filling out a large, multi-page application is an added pressure you do not need!
Hiring an external bid writer won’t just take the pressure off you, it will also increase your chances of success. The advantages of an external bid writer are:
- Years of expertise and a specific skill set in performing this type of task.
- They understand exactly how to work with the application and can deconstruct the questions asked, allowing them to give the best answers.
- They have extra time to break down the difficult jargon and find supporting evidence and documentation as this is their main priority.
- They are able to execute the application in a shorter time frame due to their years of experience, meaning they can meet the strict deadlines.
- External views allow for a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas.
At SAAF Education, we understand that you may not have the time to apply for grants yourself, so let us take away the added pressure.
If you have a project you think could be accomplished using funding from the CIF, SAAF can recommend a reputable company to write the bid on your behalf on a ‘no win no fee basis’. So, what have you got to lose?