Budget forecasting for academies

The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has recently issued guidance in regard to academies budget forecasts for 2018, including:
  • the Budget Forecast Return Outturn (BFRO) 2018 – covers the period to 31 August 2018, which needs submitting to the EFSA by 21 May; and
  • the Budget Forecast Return (BFR) 2018 – used to cover just the following year, but will now cover the following three years and needs to be submitted by 30 July.  
The reasoning behind the extended period for the BFR is that the ESFA can use this to assess the health of the academy sector and help you plan ahead. This is especially important in light of the current financial position a vast majority of academy trusts find themselves in, with limited funding and increased costs.
Multi-academy trusts (MATS) must remember to prepare and submit consolidated BFROs and BFRs, aggregating the budgets of each of your academies.

The ESFA issued a further update yesterday, announcing that the BFRO will be live from 9 April. The new online form will use the same IT platform as the accounts return, hopefully meaning the tried and tested system won’t throw up any typical IT faults that often come when new tech is introduced. Please get in touch if you want support preparing this return in the short, less than two months, timeframe given - between preparing your March management accounts and the 21 May deadline.

The ESFA will be issuing guidance on how to complete the BFR in June. They are looking for a simplified high level three year forecast table within the BFR, so, whilst the process may take longer than previous years, it shouldn’t be too time consuming – though you may need to consider future pupil numbers post August 2019 and other anticipated costs when preparing this summary.

We will issue another update once the ESFA has released their guidance but, in the meantime, if you need general help with ongoing budgeting, please contact your usual Moore Stephens contact or your local academy specialist.


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