What are we proposing?

Hertfordshire LEP is holding an open call for economic development projects in the county with £12.5m capital grant funding available. An open call is where any organisation is eligible to apply for funding, provided they meet due diligence requirements and funding criteria.

Why are we doing this?

In 2015 the LEP secured funding under the Government’s Single Local Growth Fund (known as Growth Deal) to develop a £12.5m ‘Evergreen Infrastructure’ fund to provide loan funding for projects that could be recycled into other economic development activities. The LEP is currently unable to progress this funding as a loan scheme so instead has decided to offer the £12.5m as grant funding.

In the past we have held ‘open call’ arrangements for funding and ‘prospectus’ arrangements whereby we develop projects with a small number of applicants. The LEP Board considers it timely to offer a new open call round of applications for the £12.5m funding so that the optimum number of proposals can be considered.

What is the total amount of funding available?

The total funding available is £12.5m in 2018/19, although we may be willing to consider spend spread over 2018/19 and 2019/20. We may be able to increase this amount but we can give no guarantee that we will do this.

The LEP works to a financial year from 1st April to 31st March. Funding will be confirmed on an annual basis. Future funding instalments will be dependent on the LEP receiving its funding allocation from Government each April.

What are the overall criteria for projects?

Capital

The LEP is only able to provide capital funding for projects. We will not provide revenue funding but revenue funding may be provided by the applicant as match.

Information about what constitutes capital or revenue is on the funding application form, but please bear in mind that this is only a brief guide and you will need to carry out your own checks of what is capital.

The LEP is only able to pay out against money that has already been expended, i.e. defrayed expenditure. This means that there may be some delay between you paying out for a project and being reimbursed by the LEP. This could have cash-flow implications for your organisation.

Grant

The LEP is providing grant funding which means that you will not have to pay the money back provided that you deliver the project to the agreed timescales, deliver the associated outputs and leverage, and meet the conditions of funding. If successful, you will be asked to sign up to a formal contract agreeing to the funding conditions.

Location

This funding is available for capital projects that are located in the county of Hertfordshire. Applicants do not have to be based in Hertfordshire but, if not, they will need to explain how they relate to the county.

Need for Grant

The LEP is only likely to consider projects, or packages of projects, that would be unlikely to be viable without LEP support. Applicants will need to set out why LEP funds are required for the project to proceed, and what would happen to the project without LEP funding. The applicant must be able to demonstrate convincingly that without LEP assistance the project would not go ahead at all in Hertfordshire, or in exceptional cases, would go ahead on a smaller scale. Clearly, projects that have already started are unlikely to justify the need for grant.

Level of Grant

The minimum level of funding the LEP will provide is £500,000 so applications for less than this will not be considered. However, we are willing to consider several smaller projects that together amount to more than £500,000 provided that the projects are closely related.

Note that we will not use LEP funding to pay VAT on projects so it is up to the applicant to pay all VAT costs.

Match Funding

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they will be able to deliver matched funding of at least 1:1 (i.e. for every £1 of LEP funding you should include at least £1 of matched funding). The average amount of leverage secured by current LEP projects to date is in excess of 1:1 so we are likely to look more favourably on projects with higher match funding

Match funding can come from other sources such as your own reserves, other funding bodies, s106 payments, etc.

Leverage

We will be looking for projects that bring good leverage. By leverage we mean the financial impact that the project will have beyond the immediate project.  For instance we could fund a project, match-funded by the applicant, which creates investment in adjoining areas which would probably not have happened without the LEP’s funding.

Strategic fit

The LEP is looking for projects that, as a minimum, help deliver at least one of the four strategic priorities of the LEP, namely:

Read the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan.

Outputs and Outcomes

Projects need to demonstrate that they will deliver housing, employment, business development or skills outputs.  These can be direct, i.e. creating x new homes, indirect i.e. building facilities that will enable y people to be trained, or a combination of both. Outputs must be realistic and deliverable over a period of 2-5 years following completion of the capital spend. Failure to deliver outputs will result in the LEP funds being recovered from the applicant.

Outcomes look at the wider impact of the project and how it will have a beneficial impact on, for instance, improving employment prospects in a locality. We will be looking for projects that deliver outcomes as well as outputs.

Value for Money

Projects need to demonstrate good value for money. Value for money is a quantitative assessment of the economic and wider social value generated by a project. Consistent with the objectives of the LEP, this needs to have a particular focus on unlocking growth such as new housing and creating employment. Other wider sources of value that could be considered include R&D benefits, training and skills benefits, and environmental benefits. Applicants need to demonstrate that the LEP money they have asked for is the minimum amount to allow the project to proceed.

Deliverability

The LEP is looking to fund projects that are realistic and well developed, and are either ready to be delivered or are close to being delivered. This funding is not suitable for projects that are at an early stage of development such as concept or feasibility stage.

State Aid

Applicants will need to consider if EU State Aid rules apply and, if so, how they propose to use existing exemptions in order to address this issue and minimise risk. This is explained in more detail in the funding application form.

Social Value

Applicants will need to demonstrate that their project has a positive impact on their local community.

Who is eligible to apply?

Organisations from private, public and not-for-profit organisations are eligible to apply. We are unable to accept applications from individuals and we will carry out due diligence checks on organisations to assess the financial stability of the applicant and the financial viability of the project.

How do organisations apply?

You will need to fill in a LEP standard funding application form and Appendices spreadsheet

Applications must be received by the LEP no later than 12.00 noon on Monday 18th December 2017.  Late applications will not be considered.

Applications are to be sent to: sam.hudson@hertfordshirelep.co.uk. Your application will be acknowledged.

All sections of the form must be completed or applications will not be considered. If you do not have information available, say so and explain when it will be available. For instance you may not yet have planning permission in which case you need to explain when you anticipate receiving it.

Please note that all projects must commence in 2018/19 to be eligible for funding.

How will applications be assessed?

In line with the LEP Assurance Framework all funding applications will be assessed initially by LEP Officers and by an external appraiser. View the criteria by which applications will be assessed.

An initial priority list will be drawn up with a reserve list of projects. Projects that do not meet minimum requirements will be recommended for rejection at this stage.

The projects will then be assessed by the LEP Chair’s Panel who will prioritise a list of recommended projects for the LEP Board.  (The Chair’s Panel consists of the LEP Chair plus the Chairs of the LEP’s three Programme Boards and the Programme Management Committee plus the S151 Officer who oversees all LEP spend). The LEP Board has the final say on all LEP funding applications.

What is the deadline and overall timeframe?

  1. Call released – Monday 13th November 2017
  2. Application deadline – 12.00 noon on Monday 18th December 2017
  3. Minor eligibility sift through to check if all sections of the bid forms are filled in by Friday 22nd December 2017. Applicants have until 15th January 2018 to supply further information if requested by the LEP.
  4. LEP Officer Sift – w/c Monday 15th January 2018
  5. External appraisal – w/c Monday 29th of January 2018
  6. Panel Papers go out Monday 5th February 2018
  7. LEP Chairs Panel – Monday 12th February 2018
  8. Letters of Intent issued subject to PMC/LEP Board Approval – Tuesday 13th February 2018
  9. Contracts drafted subject to PMC/LEP Board Approval – Wednesday 13th Feb 2018
  10. PMC Approval/ Recommendation to the LEP Board – Wednesday 21st Feb 2018
  11. Final stage – LEP Board 22nd March 2018
  12. Contracts issued – 23rd March 2018

Note that while we will endeavour to stick to this programme the dates may change due to factors outside our control.

If applicants have any questions?

If you have any questions about the application form or this process please contact Sam Hudson, Programmes and Contracts Executive:

Email: sam.hudson@hertfordshirelep.co.uk  
Telephone: 01707 356129
Mobile: 07469 089213

We are happy to consider and comment on a draft application provided that it is received in good time. Please do not send a draft application a few days before the application deadline as this will be too late to provide comments.

Hertfordshire LEP
November 2017