Information to help academy trusts submit their budget forecast returns to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Academies budget forecast return 3 year (BFR3Y) 2019

The BFR3Y collects financial information as well as a 3 year forecast for the sector. ESFA uses this information to review financial trends in the sector and to supply HM Treasury with a financial forecast for the next year.

We have published this guidance document to help users complete the online financial return.

Academies budget forecast return three year online form guidance

PDF, 3.5MB, 39 pages

There is an Excel workbook which includes guidance as noted below, the workbook replicates the online BFR3Y form. The workbook is intended as an aid for collecting the data and clearing validations in advance of submitting the online BFR3Y form. The submission itself must be via the BFR3Y online form, we will not accept workbook submissions.

Updated Excel workbook

In response to user feedback, we have updated the BFR3Y workbook to remove a few lines of detail required for the upcoming financial return. This covers the breakdown of the non-staff costs (line 378) which was previously split into four sub-categories, it will now revert to being a single line and the online form and workbook will now match line by line the BFRO form issued in April 2019. If you have started using the previous version of the workbook you can still continue to use this but at line 378 amalgamate the four sub-categories into one.

Academies budget forecast return three year forecast 2019 template workbook

XLSM, 1.26MB

The online form uses the IDAMS registration service and trusts must be registered and set up to use the service before they can access the form.

Read this guide on how to register and set up the online forms for the BFR.

New academy BFRs

Between August and January each year, we require new academy trusts and established trusts opening new academies to submit an in-year BFR within 6 weeks after receiving their final funding letter. Between February and July each year, new trusts and trusts with new academies should include their new academies in either the BFRO or BFR3Y. The schedule for 2019 to 2020 is as follows:

April 2019 submit BFR3Y by 30 July 2019
May 2019 submit BFR3Y by 30 July 2019
June 2019 submit BFR3Y by 30 July 2019
July 2019 submit BFR3Y by 30 July 2019
August 2019 submit in-year BFR within six weeks of receiving final funding letter
September 2019 submit in-year BFR within six weeks of receiving final funding letter
October 2019 submit in-year BFR within six weeks of receiving final funding letter
November 2019 submit in-year BFR within six weeks of receiving final funding letter
December 2019 submit in-year BFR within six weeks of receiving final funding letter
January 2020 submit in-year BFR within six weeks of receiving final funding letter
February 2020 submit in-year BFR within six weeks of receiving final funding letter

We have published these documents to help new trusts and trusts with new academies complete their in-year BFR.

Academies budget forecast return outturn (BFRO)

This form collects financial outturn information as at the end of March each year. ESFA uses the information provided to ensure that the academy sector can accurately report its financial data to HM Treasury.


If you have any questions about the BFR3Y, please contact us using our online enquiry form below. Please put ‘BFR3Y’ at the top of your enquiry so we can quickly direct your question to the team.

ESFA enquiries

Contact form

For all enquiries for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Published 28 February 2018 
Last updated 15 August 2019 + show all updates

  1.  Removed live link to BFR3Y form as submissions have now closed
  2.  We have fixed the fault when users submit and get an error message - if you're still receiving this please let us know via the enquiry form on the webpage.
  3.  There is a defect on the BFR3Y that is generating an error message on submission for some users. Please ignore this and we are fixing it this evening. Please see the webpage for more details.
  4.  The budget forecast return three year forecast form is now live and ready for users to login to complete. The deadline for submission is 30 July 2019. We will holding weekly Skype calls with the sector - please see the website for further details.
  5.  We have updated the excel workbook as we had been informed that a formula wasn't working properly. We have corrected and updated this version of the workbook.
  6.  We have updated the budget forecast return three-year excel document with a revised version that reduces the amount of detail required for this return. We have made the line ref: 378 in the workbook inline with the last BFRO return.
  7.  We have updated this page to include further details about the budget forecast return 3 year and to provide the excel template workbook to help trust's prepare for the return.
  8.  Page has been updated with a link to the online BFRO form.
  9.  Due to technical difficulties, the BFRO online form will now be available on Wednesday 10 April.
  10.  The BFRO online form is now live. This page has been updated with a link to the BFRO online form and a PDF with updated guidance on completing the online form.
  11.  We have updated the excel workbook guidance document for the BFRO form. The BFRO will open 9 April and has a deadline of 21 May 2019.
  12.  Page updated with information and a link to the online form for the new academy budget forecast return (BFR).
  13.  Updated information about academy budget forecast returns for new academies.
  14.  Updated to add the link to the online form and the guide to completing the budget forecast return (BFR) 2018. The deadline for academy trusts to submit their completed BFR is 30 July 2018.
  15.  We've published the BFR 3-year Excel workbook and guidance document for trusts to help them to prepare for their BFR return, the deadline is 30 July 2018. The form will go live on 21 June 2018.
  16.  We have updated the page with a document explaining more about the BFR 3-year forecasts
  17.  We have updated the budget forecast page with an introductory video to help explain all of the budget forecast returns that we collect.
  18.  We have added a budget forecast return outturn guidance video to help users complete their return.
  19.  Updated to include information about weekly BFRO Skype dial-ins for trusts that take place each Wednesday between 1pm and 2pm throughout April and May.
  20.  Updated with the link and guide to completing the online form for the academies budget forecast return outturn, which academy trusts submit by Monday 21 May 2018.
  21.  We have updated the academies budget forecast return outturn 2018 workbook templates.
  22.  First published.


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