Academies financial returns
This guide explains to academy trusts how to submit their financial returns to the Education Funding Agency.
Academy trusts are required by their funding agreements to submit financial returns to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). This guide explains how to submit these returns.
Submit your budget forecast
Academy trusts must monitor and manage their own budgets to ensure effective financial oversight of public funds. ESFA reviews academy trusts’ budget projections and actual results to assess financial health and to ensure the estimates of the future funding requirements for academies are accurate.
Register now for our budget forecast return: outturn webinar at 1.30pm on 20 April 2017 on completing your 2016 to 2017 budget forecast return.
EFA requires academy trusts to submit their:
- budget forecast return: outturn (BFRO) by 19 May each year
- budget forecast return (BFR) using the online form by 28 July each year
New academy trusts are required to submit budget forecast information by 6 weeks after receiving their final funding letter using either the BFR or BFRO form available at that time. They will then follow the regular cycle of BFR and BFRO submissions.
Budget forecast returns from multi-academy trusts (MATs)
A multi-academy trust (MAT) preparing aggregated financial statements comprising more than one academy must submit a consolidated BFR and BFRO aggregating the budgets of each of its academies.
If a new academy joins the MAT on or after the 28 July deadline but before the subsequent 19 May deadline, a separate return for that academy is required.
Submit your accounts returns
Academy trust accounting officers are required to submit to ESFA an annual accounts return by 31 January.
The accounts return is used for the academies sector annual report and accounts (SARA), which consolidates academy trust accounts for the year ending 31 August each year rather than as part of ESFA’s and DfE’s annual accounts, which are based on year ending 31 March each year.
The accounts return also helps DfE to produce benchmarking data that is comparable with maintained schools. To help trusts prepare their accounts return, ESFA publishes an Excel template. This follows the same structure as the online return and may assist trusts with calculating and verifying their figures before they are entered into the online return.
Academy trusts need to commission from their external auditors an assurance report on the preparation of the accounts return. The auditor’s report is the final step of the online form submission process.
All trusts preparing financial statements as at 31 August 2017 and/or with open academies at 31 August 2017 should complete the accounts return.
Deloitte carries out the validation of financial returns on EFA’s behalf, and may need to email your academy trust with queries about the data you supplied. EFA will publish information about the validation tests, thresholds and standard questions Deloitte use in the workbook for the accounts return.
The accounts return is separate to the requirement for academy trusts to produce audited financial statements. This requirement is set out in the Academies Accounts Direction.
Submit your financial statements
Academy trusts must submit to ESFA audited accounts for the period ending 31 August each year by 31 December, using the Academies Accounts Direction as a reference pack.
Additionally, you must publish your accounts on your academy trust’s website as soon as possible after approval by the trustees, but by no later than 31 January each year.
You must also file these accounts with Companies House within 9 months of the end of the accounting period. For most trusts, this will be 31 May.
Submit your land and buildings return
“New academies should complete the land and buildings online form within 6 weeks of opening. This allows ESFA to produce desktop valuations of the land and buildings of all new academies, so ESFA can consolidate academies’ valuations into the sector annual report and accounts.
EFA will send academies that opened in the year between 1 April and 31 March a copy of the desktop valuation in the following September. The copy is for information only, and academies don’t need to do anything with it.
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Published: 11 March 2014
Updated: 7 April 2017
- Updated information about arrangements for the academies budget forecast returns.
- Updated information about financial returns for 2015 to 2016.
- The Education Funding Agency has updated the page with information on how to register for the 2 December 2015 webinar for academies on completing the August accounts return.
- The Education Funding Agency has updated this page to confirm academy trusts no longer need to complete an annual value for money form by 31 December. Instead, trusts must complete an assessment of value for money within the governance statement in their annual financial statements.
- The Education Funding Agency has updated the page to include a link to the guide to completing academy trusts' 2015 to 2016 budget forecast returns. The online form academy trusts must use to submit the return will be published in June.
- The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has updated the guide to financial returns to include reference to the March 2015 accounts return, which academy trusts in scope must submit to EFA by 31 May 2015.
- Links added to newly-published March accounts return and Deloitte validation tests
- First published.