Academies Financial Handbook

  1. Contents

The financial management requirements that apply to academy trusts.

Academy trusts must comply with this handbook as a condition of their funding agreement. It provides an overarching framework for implementation of effective financial management and control. Other resources are available to help you get the right systems in place.

Managing your resources well will help you get best value and be accountable to the public.

The 2019 Academies Financial Handbook was effective from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2020. Academy trusts completing financial statements for the period ending 31 August 2020 should refer to the 2019 edition of the handbook.

As set out in a letter academy trust accounting officers the following changes have been made to requirements in the handbook in light of COVID-19:

  • Paragraph 4.4: The deadline for submitting financial statements to ESFA for the year ending 31 August 2020 has been extended to 31 January 2021.
  • Paragraph 4.4: The deadline for publishing financial statements on the trust’s website for the year ending 31 August 2020 has been extended to 28 February 2021.
  • Paragraph 3.23: The deadline for submitting the trust’s annual internal scrutiny report has been extended to 31 January 2021.


To provide feedback about the handbook or to contact ESFA for guidance please complete an enquiry form.

  1. Foreword by Baroness Berridge Foreword by Baroness Berridge, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System.
  2. Who should read this handbook Find out if this handbook applies to you.
  3. What has changed in this edition? The main changes to this edition
  4. Part 1: Roles and responsibilities The duties of key people responsible for running academy trusts.
  5. Part 2: Main financial requirements The financial management requirements for academy trusts.
  6. Part 3: Internal scrutiny The need for academy trusts to conduct checks to ensure systems are effective and compliant.
  7. Part 4: Annual accounts and external audit How academy trusts must report on their finances to give assurance to Parliament and the public about the use of resources.
  8. Part 5: Delegated authorities The financial freedoms and limits applying to academy trusts.
  9. Part 6: The regulator and intervention How ESFA oversees academy trusts and may intervene where concerns arise.
  10. Part 7: Definitions Help with terms used in this handbook.
  11. Part 8: Schedule of requirements (the musts) The requirements in the handbook brought together into one list: the ‘musts’.
  12. Part 9: Further reading Links to more information and guidance.
  13. Acknowledgements The Academies Financial Handbook has been produced jointly by ESFA and a working group of academy sector representatives
  14. Academies Financial Handbook 2020 to print Clerks to the board of trustees may wish to print a pdf version of the Academies Financial Handbook 2020 for their induction pack for new trustees.
  15. Academies Financial Handbook 2019 A pdf copy of the 2019 edition of the handbook.