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Useful information for potential applicants of the RDPE Growth Programme – Round 3

Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme

Details of the RDPE Growth Programme funds can be found in our previous post. However, as a very quick background to the fund:

  • Grant funding for capital projects (minimum project size is £50K)
  • Based on three themes:
    • Business Development
    • Food Processing
    • Rural Tourism Infrastructure
  • For rural businesses looking to create jobs
  • The Rural Payment Agency (RPA) administrate the fund

Key points for RPA workshop

Earlier this week, I attended a recent workshop on the RDPE Growth Programme hosted by the RPA. The handbooks are a good source of information and should be next to you when writing any application. However, I have highlighted some notes that are either not in the handbook and/ or I felt were worth reiterating.

Upfront general advice· On completing the expression of interest (EOI) and full application, answer the question being asked and look to clearly meet the national and local priorities per the handbook.

· Be realistic with jobs being created, do not over promise.

· £30K of grant per job is the benchmark. More jobs created for £30K will score higher; conversely less jobs will score you lower. £30K of grant per job is not a requirement in an application.

· National priorities key elements: create jobs and grow your business

· Food processing is complicated. The RPA will confirm if you project raw ingredients and end product are on the Annex 1 list.

· Applications/ expressions of interest are looked at by an ESIF sub-committee of each LEP to ensure there is local strategic fit as well as the RPA.

Changes from Round two

 

· Previously funding allocated to LEP areas, it is now on a national scale

· Except for Cornwall and Isle of Scilly that has £4m ring-fenced

·  Minimum project size is £50K, was £87.5K (on 40% intervention rate)

·  Minimum match funding is £30K, was £52.5K (on 40% intervention rate)

· Timescales are tight (see below)

· Planning permission must be in place and submitted with a full application

TimescalesExpression of Interest deadline is 16 February 2020 – see further below
Do not forget – RPA’s closing remarks· Do not start the project until the grant funding agreement has been signed and returned, doing so can jeopardise the whole grant claim!

· In the EOI, you will need to state where match funding will come from. In the full application, you need proof of these funds (i.e. bank letter pre-approving a loan/ funds in your account)

· If only permitted development is required, ensure you have proof of this

· Show how grant funding is vital to the project in the EOI

· Procurement with three written quotes is still the biggest hurdle in approving full applications

Timescales (and implications thereof)

I have tabulated some of the key dates in the process below:

Form/ ProcessApplicant deadlineRPA turnaround timetable
Expression of Interest16 February 202030 working days
Full application submissionApril / June / August 2020 (see Notes 1 and 2 below)60 working days
Project completion and final claim form30 September 2021Claims paid within 30 working days

Note

  1. *31 August 2020 is the final date for submission of the full application. On the expression of interest, you will decide what date your full application will be submitted by, i.e. you could pick 30 April 2020. However, this date once set cannot be extended!
  2. Do not under-estimate the time required to do a full application, two to three months is fairly common.

To give an idea on how tight the timescales could be: if the full application is not submitted until August 2020, it might mean the grant funding agreement is not received until late-November 2020 – assuming above timetables are kept to. This will leave about 10 months for you to complete the project, pay for it and submit your final claim form.

My closing remarks

Time is running out with the EOI deadline of 16 February 2020 fast approaching.

As we have indicated previously, my colleagues and I at PKF Francis Clark have a wealth of experience of assisting clients raising finance via grants, including direct experience of this scheme in previous rounds. In addition to helping with raising grant finance, we can assist with the raising of external funding as a match.

So please get in touch with me if you have any questions for PKF Francis Clark on this grant scheme and/ or require assistance with your application (or in fact have a broader funding query).

And finally, thank you to Paul Dean and the rest of the RPA team for putting on this workshop.

By Andrew James

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