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College financial planning handbook and financial plan

College Financial Forecasting Return (CFFR)

ESFA has issued a new template for a July 2021 return for colleges. We are asking for a return from all colleges as part of the ESFA’s on-going financial risk-assessment process.

This is a statutory return, and all colleges must make a return by the 31 July 2021.

The documents required to be submitted are:

College financial forecasting return for colleges (CFFR) – Formal assessment of financial health and review of college budget forecasting.

Commentary – A supporting document that explains the assumptions upon which the forecast years have been completed in the CFFR return. Please refer to the updated Financial Planning Handbook for further information

Please ensure that you use the version of the CFFR published on the 14 May 2021, or subsequent releases that might include fixes and the monitoring worksheets. Submission of information in draft or test versions of the CFFR will not be accepted.

The Chief financial officer must sign this return which confirms the review and approval of the 2021 to 2022 budget by the Governing Body.

We are conscious of the pressure of the current pandemic and have therefore continued to work with the Association of Colleges and its College Finance Directors Group, and the Sixth Form College Association in the creation of the CFFR to reduce the burden of financial returns.

We will provide guidance and support through the ESFA Bulletin, the ESFA helpdesk via the ESFA enquiry form, the delivery of webinars and your ESFA Territorial Team caseworker.

Submission arrangements for the CFFR

Colleges must submit these documents to ESFA by 31 July 2021.

Colleges must submit their documents via the IDAMS (Identity and Access Management System) online portal.

Both documents (CFFR and Commentary) must initially be uploaded at the same time by colleges but can subsequently be resubmitted separately, if required. Colleges will receive an email confirmation that their upload has been successful.

Further details are available within the online portal.

If the person responsible for submitting these documents does not have access to the IDAMS system they can request an account using the ‘I don’t have an account’ link on the login page. Please complete ESFA’s online form if you have any questions about your submission.

Video walkthrough of the CFFR

We have recorded a webinar explaining how to complete the CFFR. You can watch below on YouTube.

CFFR walkthrough

College financial planning handbook

The college financial planning handbook sets out ESFA’s financial planning framework for sixth-form and further education colleges. The Handbook specifies the financial outturn requirements for the year 2020 to 2021 and financial planning requirements for the years 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023 for sixth-form and further education college corporations.

We publish the College Financial Planning Handbook on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, in their role as principal regulator of college corporations as exempt charities. Compliance with this handbook is a requirement in corporations’ funding agreements with ESFA.

Colleges must refer to this document when preparing their College Financial Forecasting Return (CFFR) and commentary for the July financial planning return.

Ongoing monitoring

Colleges under ongoing ESFA monitoring arrangements should continue to submit management accounts and other information as required to [email protected] (in addition to submitting these templates).

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