This is the time when stress levels rise even higher in many Academies as they are now working on their BFRO (budget forecast returns outturn) submissions for the ESFA. As we help a number of schools and academies with their financial management, we often get asked a few questions about the BFRO.
- What happens with the BFRO data?
- Why do Academies have to complete a BFRO?
- How can I complete my BFRO more easily?
Please note we are not from the ESFA and you should seek detailed advice from the ESFA via their website or call them.
What happens with the BFRO data?
The BFRO is a return giving information on what has happened in your Academy for the year ending 31st March. The ESFA compile the data you submit and submit a large amount of it to HM Treasury. They also use it, in conjunction with BFR data to examine the health of the Academies sector as well as predicting the financial health of your academy.
Why do Academies have to complete a BFRO?
So that government can be satisfied that money they invest in the sector is being used wisely. The ESFA’s year end of 31st of March, so you need to complete it for this deadline.
In essence it’s a summary of income and expenditure, which is good practice for Academies (like every business) to have anyway. Without the ability to see what you’ve spent differently to budget and previous years it’s very hard to improve your financial status and make the money go further (which is something we help Academies with).
How can I complete my BFRO more easily?
The biggest thing is to keep accounting records up to date and accurate throughout the year, this means it’s easier to transfer the data onto your BFRO.
Other things that have helped clients include:
- Ensure your accounting software can produce a BFRO and that your chart of accounts is mapped to the BFRO report in the software
- Having an up to date forecast to the end of the academic year (as part of the BFRO asks for a forecast to the upcoming 31 August).
- Producing a Balance Sheet to 31 March (monthly Balance Sheets are effectively required since the latest Academies Financial Handbook requirements).
How can I keep my financial records up to date more easily?
The first thing I’d say, of course, is to ask us to help you! However, some other issues we’ve seen are:
- Do regular monthly reconciliations including bank, debtors and creditors reconciliations
- Create a monthly checklist to complete monthly and then again for 31 March and ensure Finance staff are aware of the requirements
- While sometimes unpopular and controversial is make sure your Finance function is all year round rather than just during term time
How else could you help me?
Although we are Accountants, we don’t deliver numbers, we spend time turning them into information and assist you with taking actions based on that information. So, we could help you:
- Understand the financial statements, so you can present them more confidently
- Understand the results of your audit
- Manage your financial information throughout the year, so you save time to focus on teaching
If you have a specific question on the finances in your Academy and would appreciate a third-party viewpoint, give us a call 020 8 532 9843 or email us on Karen@alanpatient.com, we are always happy to talk.