The Academies Financial Handbook (AFH) has not been suspended.
Please be aware that academy trusts will not be required to submit the BFRO this year. A link to the BFRO webpage on GOV.UK can be found here.
The academies budget forecast return 3 year (BFR3Y) collection was due to go live on 23 June 2020, but has been deferred. A decision about this return is expected to be deferred until later in 2020.
The workbook and further information regarding the BFR3Y is now available. The online form will be available on 8 July 2020, with a submission deadline of 29 Sept 2020.
The workbook is not intended for submission and is only there to help you complete the online form.
Due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on education settings, this year’s BFR3Y 2020 will have some one-off changes made to it. The changes include:
- extending the deadline by 2 months to 29 September 2020
- removing the need to submit forecasts for academic years 2021/22 and 2022/23 for this year only
All academy trusts must still compile longer-term forecasts for their own internal financial planning as required in the Academies Financial Handbook (section 2.11)
A full review of ESFA data collections has taken place. The ESFA guidance on reducing burdens on educational and care settings includes a full list of returns that have been cancelled, paused or deferred.
The ESFA wrote to academy Accounting Officers on 21 April 2020 to advise on the requirements for financial returns, and the AFH requirements, during the COVID-19 crisis. In relation to the continued use of the AFH, the letter stated “I see strong governance, financial management and decision making as essential to help trusts deal with the current challenging circumstances
.” and that therefore trusts should not move away from using it.
In relation to the internal scrutiny requirements in the Handbook, the letter states “whilst in-person review visits to academies would be inappropriate at present, it is at boards’ discretion whether remote checks are feasible and helpful in managing risk during school closures.
The ESFA have considered the timetable for trusts and their external auditors preparing, auditing and submitting financial statements and associated returns, including auditors’ management letters and internal scrutiny reports, by the deadline of 31 December 2020. At the moment they are advising that this timetable will remain in place.