Academies financial returns
This guide explains to academy trusts how to submit their financial returns to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Academy trusts are required by their funding agreements to submit financial returns to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). This guide introduces these returns and provides links to further information.
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.
ESFA requires academy trusts to submit their:
- budget forecast return: outturn (BFRO) in May each year
- budget forecast return (BFR) using the online form in 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 July BFR deadline but before the subsequent May BFRO deadline, a separate return for that academy is required.
Submit your land and buildings collection tool
The land and building collection tool (LBCT) is a new return which asks for a listing of land and buildings specifying the occupation route (for example freehold, leasehold). This information enables ESFA to report full information on the land and buildings held across the sector in the sector annual report and accounts (SARA). You can read the guide to completing the academies land and building collection tool and use a workbook to help you prepare. The deadline for submitting the LBCT is 31 October 2017.
Please note any new academy trust, whose first academy opens before 31 August 2017, must complete both LBCT and the academy land and buildings valuation return.
Submit your accounts returns
Academy trust accounting officers are required to submit to ESFA an annual accounts return in January each year.
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 other academies and with maintained schools.
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 academy trusts with a funding agreement with the Secretary of State and an open academy at any point during the accounting period to 31 August 2017 must 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.
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.
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 ESFA’s Document Exchange
ESFA will issue guidance on submitting your financial statements in October 2017.
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 valuation return
New academies should complete the land and buildings valuation online form within 6 weeks of opening. This allows ESFA to produce desktop valuations of the land and buildings of all new academies. ESFA 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.
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Published: 11 March 2014
Updated: 10 July 2017
- Updated to add a link to the guide to completing the academies land and buildings collection tool.
- Updated information adding information about the land and building collection tool and a link to the budget forecast return online form.
- 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.