Academies budget forecast return

Information to help academy trusts submit their budget forecast return to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Applies to England

Academies budget forecast return

The deadline for the budget forecast return (BFR) is 31 August 2023, the link will be published here once the 2023 form is ready, this will be in early June 2023.

Academies budget forecast return background

The BFR is a collection that spans the past, current and future financial years. It collects data in a format to allow for academic and financial year analysis by ESFA/DfE. BFR2023 covers these periods:

  • Sep 21 to Mar 22 and Apr 22 to Aug 22 (part pre-populated from previous BFR return)
  • Sep 22 to Mar 23 and Apr 23 to Aug 23
  • Sep 23 to Mar 24 and Apr 24 to Aug 24
  • Summary forecasts for Sep 24 to Aug 25
  • Summary forecasts for Sep 25 to Aug 26

To find out more about how to use the BFR online form, use the link below for detailed guidance.

There are 2 versions of the Excel workbook to help you prepare your BFR, these both include the section introduced last year for academy trusts with revenue balances of 20% or more as at August 2023:

  • a single-page version
  • a multi-page version structured to look like the online form

Both versions have the same questions and validations contained within the online form.

In-year academy transfers

Your BFR return must reflect any academies transferring in or out of your trust. The table below shows what you need to include in your BFR based on the month of transfer:

Month of transfer Academy leaving a trust Academy joining a trust
September 2022 No action required BFR to include actuals and forecasts for the academy joining the trust
October 2022 to April 2023 BFR to include actuals up to the point of transfer and remove from that point onwards BFR to include actuals and forecasts from the date of transfer
May 2023 to August 2023 BFR to include actuals to the point of transferring and remove forecasts from then on BFR include forecasts from the point of transfer
September 2023 onwards BFR to include actuals and forecasts up to the point of transfer and remove forecasts from then on BFR to include forecasts from September 2023 onwards

Access to your BFR online form

The budget forecast return online form uses the IDAMS registration service. Academy trusts must be registered and set up to use the service before they can access the form. Please read this guide on how to register and set up the online forms for the BFR.

Dial-in Sector calls

We are also holding regular question and answer sessions throughout the BFR collection window. These sessions are voluntary and are aimed at any academy users who would like to speak to us about your BFR.

Follow the instructions below to joining the MS Teams call:

Join on your computer, mobile app or room device.

Click here to join the meeting

Meeting ID: 389 139 027 158
Passcode: KML5iG

Or call in (audio only)

tel:+442033215238 Phone Conference ID: 890 758 044#

Date Time
06 June 2023 10:30
08 June 2023 10:30
13 June 2023 Power hour session 10:00
15 June 2023 10:30
20 June 2023 10:30
22 June 2023 10:30
27 June 2023 10:30
29 June 2023 10:30
04 July 2023 10:30
06 July 2023 10:30
11 July 2023 10:30
13 July 2023 10:30
18 July 2023 10:30
20 July 2023 10:30
25 July 2023 10:30
27 July 2023 10:30
1 August 2023 10:30
8 August 2023 10:30
15 August 2023 10:30
22 August 2023 10:30
29 August 2023 10:30
31 August 2023 10:30

Contact us

You can contact us using our online enquiry form below. Please put ‘academies budget forecast returns’ at the top of your enquiry so we can quickly respond to your query.

ESFA enquiries

For all enquiries for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Published 28 February 2018
Last updated 25 May 2023 + show all updates
  1. BFR Power Hour session date and time included on the main page.

  2. We've updated the BFR 2023 workbooks.

  3. We've added new BFR sector call dates for the 2023 return.

  4. We've added details about the BFR deadline for this year, 31 August 2023, including updated guidance and supporting information.

  5. The academies budget forecast return has passed, please submit your return as soon as possible if you've not already done so.

  6. Updated the duration details for the weekly sector calls and webchats.

  7. The weekend service update was successful and the budget forecast form is accessible again from the dashboard.

  8. The online form for the academies budget forecast return is now live. The deadline to complete and submit the return is 26 July 2022.

  9. We have updated this page with new versions of the Excel workbooks to include the extra questions for academy trusts with a revenue balance of 20% or more.

  10. We have uploaded 2 Excel workbooks to help users prepare for the online BFR collection in June. There is a new multi-page workbook that mirrors the layout of the online form.

  11. We have updated this page with information that academy trusts are no longer required to submit a separate budget forecast return outturn.

  12. The BFR deadline has now passed, it was 27 July 2021.

  13. We've updated the Excel workbook as older versions may have a bug on BFR line 365 on the BFR suite tab and lines 6 and 7 on the Trust Validation Table. If you have any queries about this, please us refer to the "Help with your BFR" section for how to contact us.

  14. The academies budget forecast return is now open - please complete your return by the deadline, 27 July 2021.

  15. The excel workbook has been updated based on user feedback.

  16. We have published the Excel workbook for the academies budget forecast return (BFR) to help users prepare their return later in the year.

  17. We have updated this page to include information about how to complete your budget forecast return if you have academies transferring in or out of your trust.

  18. We have updated this page with information about a single BFR return this year, which will combines both the BFRO and the BFR3Y into a single online form. The combined form will go live in June 2021 with a deadline 27 July 2021. We will publish the Excel workbook for trust's to use in due course.

  19. The BFR3Y deadline has passed - if your academy trust has not yet completed your return please do as soon as possible.

  20. The BFR3Y is now live, please see this webpage for details about the financial return and the BFR3Y login link.

  21. We have added Skype dial-in details for the BFR3Y collection period and published the BFR3Y online form guidance - the form will be available from 8 July 2020 with a deadline of 29 September 2020.

  22. We have published new details about the BFR3Y financial return including an extended deadline, 29 September 2020.

  23. Page updated to confirm that academy trusts are not required to submit the budget forecast return outturn (BFRO) this year.

  24. Updated to include the details for the BFRO collection as well as the BFRO excel workbook.

  25. Updated to remove information about the in-year budget forecast return for new academies as this is no longer required.

  26. We have updated the page to include the latest information for the budget forecast return for new academy trusts and new academies only. We will write to those in scope for this return.

  27. Removed live link to BFR3Y form as submissions have now closed

  28. We have fixed the fault when users submit and get an error message - if you're still receiving this please let us know via the enquiry form on the webpage.

  29. There is a defect on the BFR3Y that is generating an error message on submission for some users. Please ignore this and we are fixing it this evening. Please see the webpage for more details.

  30. The budget forecast return three year forecast form is now live and ready for users to login to complete. The deadline for submission is 30 July 2019. We will holding weekly Skype calls with the sector - please see the website for further details.

  31. We have updated the excel workbook as we had been informed that a formula wasn't working properly. We have corrected and updated this version of the workbook.

  32. We have updated the budget forecast return three-year excel document with a revised version that reduces the amount of detail required for this return. We have made the line ref: 378 in the workbook inline with the last BFRO return.

  33. We have updated this page to include further details about the budget forecast return 3 year and to provide the excel template workbook to help trust's prepare for the return.

  34. Page has been updated with a link to the online BFRO form.

  35. Due to technical difficulties, the BFRO online form will now be available on Wednesday 10 April.

  36. The BFRO online form is now live. This page has been updated with a link to the BFRO online form and a PDF with updated guidance on completing the online form.

  37. We have updated the excel workbook guidance document for the BFRO form. The BFRO will open 9 April and has a deadline of 21 May 2019.

  38. Page updated with information and a link to the online form for the new academy budget forecast return (BFR).

  39. Updated information about academy budget forecast returns for new academies.

  40. Updated to add the link to the online form and the guide to completing the budget forecast return (BFR) 2018. The deadline for academy trusts to submit their completed BFR is 30 July 2018.

  41. We've published the BFR 3-year Excel workbook and guidance document for trusts to help them to prepare for their BFR return, the deadline is 30 July 2018. The form will go live on 21 June 2018.

  42. We have updated the page with a document explaining more about the BFR 3-year forecasts

  43. We have updated the budget forecast page with an introductory video to help explain all of the budget forecast returns that we collect.

  44. We have added a budget forecast return outturn guidance video to help users complete their return.

  45. Updated to include information about weekly BFRO Skype dial-ins for trusts that take place each Wednesday between 1pm and 2pm throughout April and May.

  46. Updated with the link and guide to completing the online form for the academies budget forecast return outturn, which academy trusts submit by Monday 21 May 2018.

  47. We have updated the academies budget forecast return outturn 2018 workbook templates.

  48. First published.