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 Funding Agency (EFA). This guide explains how to submit these returns.
Submit your accounts returns
Academy trust accounting officers are required to submit to EFA an annual accounts return by 31 January.
The accounts return helps EFA to consolidate academies’ accounts into EFA’s and DfE’s annual accounts as required by the Treasury. It also helps DfE to produce benchmarking data that is comparable with maintained schools. This return is separate from the requirement to produce audited financial statements, which is set out in the Academies Accounts Direction.
EFA publishes an Excel template annually in June. Academy trusts need to commission from their external auditors an assurance report on the preparation of the accounts return. The auditor’s report is a tab within the accounts return template.
Only trusts that are preparing financial statements for the year ending 31 August and have academies open as at 31 August should complete this annual accounts return. If you fall into one of the following categories you will instead need to complete by 31 May a separate accounts return, issued by EFA in March and described as the March accounts return.
- academy trusts with academies open at 31 March that did not prepare audited accounts at 31 August the previous year
- academy trusts that did prepare audited accounts at 31 August the previous year but have opened academies between 1 September and 31 March
For the second category above, the return should only cover those academies that opened in that period. This will typically apply to multi-academy trusts but will also apply to single academy trusts that were incorporated but had not opened an academy at 31 August.
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 publishes information about the validation tests, thresholds and standard questions Deloitte use.
Submit your budget forecast
Academy trusts must monitor and manage their own budgets to ensure effective financial oversight of public funds. EFA 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.
EFA requires academy trusts to submit their budget forecast returns using the online form by 31 July annually.
Academy trusts that open on or after 1 April each financial year and new academies joining an existing multi-academy trust on or after 1 April are required to submit their budget forecast return 6 weeks after receiving their final funding letter or by 31 July of the same year, depending which is later.
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 budget forecast return aggregating the budgets of each of its academies.
If a new academy joins the MAT on or after the 31 July deadline, a separate return for that academy is required.
Submit your financial statements
Academy trusts must submit to EFA audited accounts for the period ending 31 August each year by 31 December, using the Academies Accounts Direction as a reference pack.
You will need to:
- complete a short online form covering important information from your audited accounts
- upload your audited accounts and auditor’s management letter to EFA’s Document Exchange using the guide to submitting your accounts
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.
Producing your academy trust’s first set of accounts
The point at which your trust needs to start preparing financial statements depends on the date that the trust was incorporated (registered) as a company at Companies House. Company law permits an initial accounting period (ie the period immediately after incorporation) of up to 18 months.
Therefore, a new trust incorporated on or before 28 February must prepare its first accounts to 31 August that year. New academy trusts incorporated on or after 1 March may, if they wish, defer preparation of their first accounts until 31 August the following year. Trusts must contact EFA, via the enquiry form, by 30 September, if they intend to do this. Following the initial accounting period, trusts must prepare accounts to 31 August each year and submit them to EFA by 31 December.
You must also file the accounts with Companies House as set out above. If the period since incorporation is greater than 12 months, then you must file the accounts with Companies House within 21 months of incorporation or within 3 months of the end of the accounting period, whichever is later.
Submit your land and buildings return
New academies should complete the land and buildings online form within 6 weeks of opening. This allows EFA to produce desktop valuations of the land and buildings of all new academies, so EFA can consolidate academies’ valuations into its financial statements.
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.
You can access online training videos and recordings of our interactive webinars to help you complete your financial returns.
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Published: 11 March 2014
Updated: 12 November 2015
- 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.