Land and Buildings Collection Tool Returns and ESFA audited accounts deadlines

4 November 2019 is the deadline for academy trusts to complete the land and buildings collection tool (LBCT) which came out on 1 October 2019. The return needs to be completed by each academy trust to provide land and buildings details for each academy school operated by the academy trust as at 31 August 2019. If an academy joins an academy trust on or after 1 September 2019, it will be accounted for in the LBCT next year.

31 December 2019 is the deadline for Academy trusts must submit to the ESFA audited accounts for the period ending 31 August 2019. The ESFA is expected to issue guidance on the 2017/18 academies accounts return by October 2019. Additionally, accounts must be published on an academy trust’s website as soon as possible after approval by the trustees, but by no later than 31 January each year.

Funding and grants

The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is an annual bidding round for academy trusts and sixth-form colleges to apply for capital funding. The priority for the fund is to address significant condition need, keeping sixth-form colleges and academy buildings in good working order.

The application form asks applicants to provide the date on which their current master funding agreement was signed. Academy trusts that have signed up to a master FA after December 2014, and those committed to moving to the latest model FA prior to announcing CIF by 1 March 2020, will be awarded a bonus point to their overall application score.

Trusts who would like to update their funding documents to gain this advantage should get in touch with their usual Stone King contact, we will be happy to assist you.

Academies Financial Handbook

The Academies Financial Handbook 2019 must be complied with. From this September, the ESFA has tightened up the internal scrutiny requirements on academy trusts, with the more significant changes including:

  • There is a new requirement on trusts to show how they have checked that their internal systems are effective and compliant through an independently-prepared annual internal scrutiny report, submitted to the ESFA.
  • There is an increased emphasis throughout on trusts having robust internal scrutiny and risk management.
  • Trusts must now maintain a risk register.
  • Decisions about levels of executive pay must be defensible (not just reasonable).
  • A requirement for trusts under a financial notice to improve to publish it on their website.

In supporting academy trusts in making good decisions about finance and governance, the ESFA has also published new guidance to support academy trusts in making decisions about governance including:

Academy trust financial management good practice guides

Setting executive salaries: guidance for academy trusts