• Date

    09 May 2024
  • Category

    Business Accounting

Budget forecast return guidance for academies

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) have issued some guidance ahead of the budget forecast return (BFR) which goes live on 4 June and has a deadline of 29 August.

In order to assist those within the academies sector with their return, we have provided a summary of some useful information included in the guidance notes. These points cover a number of important topics and changes of note from 2023:

  • The ESFA will pre-populate the prior year’s data within the form for trusts who adopt the Academies Chart of Accounts (CoA).
  • New lines have been added to collect data on how much trusts spend in key areas of technology (ICT). They have introduced new lines to collect data on how much trusts spend in key areas of technology (ICT). You will not have to enter data in these lines for the 2022/23 prior year columns, these are greyed out and data cannot be entered. To find out more on the new technology spend, click here.
  • The ESFA have introduced a new line to understand how much trusts spend on building’s repairs/maintenance, and/or improvements that is included in the revenue section of the return.
  • The ESFA have updated the question about reserves to better understand trusts plans for reserves.
  • The ESFA have updated the three-year forecast section to ask for specific assumptions around pay awards for teaching and support staff.
  • Line 299 has been removed, included guidance on RAAC income/expenditure and updated a number of help texts following user feedback. They have also created a BFR lines quick reference guide. To find out what is required in each BFR line, click here.
  • When live, the BFR will be on a new authentication system called DfE Sign in platform (DSI) and IDAMs will no longer be operational. To find out more about DfE Sign In click here.


The onus is again on academy trusts to make appropriate assumptions, although some guidance is provided. There is also additional focus on capital and technology spend this time around.

Should you wish to review the guidance in full, it is accessible here. There’s also an Excel workbook published to assist trusts in collating the information, and it’s available here.


LGPS information

The administration and accounting for the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) has been a topic of discussion in recent years, due to the nature of the information provided by actuaries and the increasing prevalence of trusts reporting assets in their year end accounting valuations. The ESFA have produced some information to help academy trusts understand their obligations and roles in respect of the pension schemes. This is very useful and should cover the majority of questions that we get asked by academy trusts.

The guidance is available here.


We are here to help

If you have any questions on the budget forecast return, please get in touch with your usual Azets advisor or a member of our Academies team.


Information correct at time of publishing, but may be subject to change in future. This article is for general information only and is not intended to be advice to any specific person. You are recommended to seek professional advice before taking or refraining from taking action on the basis of the contents of this article.


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Graham Fitzgerald

Partner Wynyard
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