Academy Trust Handbook 2023 – what has changed?

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The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has published its new Academy Trust Handbook. It is, the guidance says, a ‘materially shorter and sharper document’.

The Handbook takes effect from 1 September 2023 and introduces several changes. It is also accompanied by a new Schedule of Musts – a separate document that pulls together all the requirements contained in the Handbook into one helpful list.

The main changes in the 2023/24 Handbook include:

  • Related party transactions: increasing the threshold beyond which ESFA approval is required for related party transactions from £20,000 to £40,000.
  • Annual reporting: removing the requirement for explanations in annual accounts when holding fewer than six board meetings per year.
  • Budget setting: providing an additional month to submit annual budget forecast returns.
  • Budget monitoring: providing more discretion in the distribution of management accounts.
  • Sustainability: confirming that salary sacrifice schemes can be set up for electric vehicles, in most cases without ESFA approval.

A more detailed summary of these changes can be found on page 7 of the Academy Trust Handbook.

The new Schedule of Musts is an abbreviated list of the requirements published in the Handbook brought together into one list presented as a checklist. It is organised echoing the Handbook chapters, with references to its relevant sections. This Schedule of Musts can be found here.

It should be noted, however, that this Schedule of Musts is heavily abbreviated and should not be used as a substitute for the full Handbook. It is also an entirely optional resource with no requirement to submit to the ESFA.

For more information on the changes to the 2023-24 Academy Trust Handbook or the Schedule of Musts contact Alex Bottom.

Do you need extra information?

Alex Bottom - Managing Prinicipal for Hillier Hopkins

Alex is a specialist Audit Principal and acts for many of the firm’s larger corporate clients. Alex commonly advises owner managed businesses and also heads up our specialist academies team.

Contact Alexander at or on +44 (0)1923 634429