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Thought Leadership

How to prepare for CIF

Min Read

Why wait until the announcement to get CIF-ready? Maximise your chances of getting additional funding by taking stock of your school buildings earlier, putting you ahead of the game with your bid.

The announcement of annual Condition Improvement Funding (CIF) bidding rounds kick-starts a period of frenzied action. For others who are new to CIF, they may not even be aware whether their projects are eligible until it is too late.

But CIF or no CIF, getting to grips with your school buildings is always worthwhile – and the earlier the better.

What you need

Two tools you need to effectively plan the future of your school campus, and maximise your chance of a winning CIF bid are:

  • A thorough, detailed overview of your buildings
  • A comprehensive development plan

By completing these two tasks it will become clear whether certain aspects are eligible for CIF, which will indicate what your bids will focus on. You will also be armed with detailed evidence and reports to support your bids. This is essential in maximising your chances of being successful, because more robust data means a higher chance of success.

But even if your projects are not appropriate, getting to grips with the condition of your school buildings is the very best baseline for effective long-term planning.

Drill down to details

The nearer to the CIF deadline, the more the focus will need to be on the specific details of the project – particularly urgent issues such as leaky roofs or dangerous asbestos. Bids that win tend to be those with the most comprehensive and realistic information, including real-world costings. This can be quite time-consuming to gather together, which is why it is worth starting this process early. Avoid guesswork as this will hinder your chances of winning a bid.

See the big picture

Through a comprehensive overview of all buildings, CIF-eligible projects can be addressed in relation to the needs of the campus as a whole. CIF funding itself will still only be applicable for specific urgent-need scenarios, and no matter how strong the bid there is no fool-proof guarantee of a win. However, it is better to see CIF projects as parts of the bigger picture, because tackling issues as they arise can lead to inefficient and costly solutions.

Imagine, for example, refurbishing the interior of a school block, only to find two years later that the roof begins to leak, or that curricular needs change and the block would have been better off completely rethought or replaced. All the inconvenience caused by the first intervention would need to be repeated, causing further disruption to the daily life of the school. You should, therefore, focus on all possibilities for the next few years, including the likelihood of building fabric deterioration and potential future teaching needs.

Save money

You can also save a considerable amount of money by planning for the future. By bulking works you are far more likely to achieve savings from contractors and having only one team of consultants on board reduces the potential for disconnected decision making. If you consider all possibilities for future years together, more holistic and efficient solutions are likely to present themselves.

A good quality, detailed condition survey and forward-looking development plan form the best basis for effective long-term decision-making. Not only that, forward planning puts you ahead of the curve for this year’s CIF round – and any rounds to come. So why not take the opportunity to consider the bigger picture while time is on your side?

Posted on:

Jan 4th 2020


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