36. Which organisations can apply for ERDF?
The ERDF eligibility rules are currently being drafted by the Government and we expect they will be available in 2015. However, it is worth noting that ERDF does not fund businesses directly; rather it funds organisations which can, in turn, provide support (such as business, technical, finance - loans/equity) to SMEs to help them grow. Organisations that apply must be robust financially and have the skills and expertise to undertake the running of a project.
37. How can I get experience of ERDF or managing EU projects?
One of the best ways to gain experience is to speak to existing or previous recipients of ERDF funding. A list of organisations funded under the 2007-13 ERDF programme that supported business development in the East Midlands can be found here at the following link. You may like to approach one or more of them.
38. Can charities be beneficiaries of ERDF if they are also registered companies and meet SME criteria?
Applicant organisations for ERDF don’t have to be SMEs themselves; for example local authorities and universities are likely to apply for ERDF. We are awaiting guidance on which organisations can apply but we expect it to include:
39. Can ERDF projects support SMEs that are social enterprises?
Yes, as long as the social enterprises conform with the SME eligibility requirements, which will be published in due course by Government.
40. How much ERDF can an organisation apply for?
This hasn’t been determined yet, but there is likely to be a minimum threshold.
41. Is there a minimum turnover limit for an organisation aiming to bid as a lead partner?
An organisation will have to provide evidence of whether they would be able to repay the grant in the event of any claw back situation – which could include the whole of the grant.
42. How long can an ERDF project last for?
For ERDF, this has not been determined yet but guidance will be issued later this year - 2015.
43. If I want to apply for funding, do I have to provide match funding?
Yes for ERDF. Applicants will need to secure eligible match funding. Usually half of a project’s funding comes from ERDF, the other 50% from other sources. D2N2 are still in discussion with Opt-in organisations providing ERDF activity and they will provide the match funding, similar to the 2007-13 programme.
44. Can match funding be in-kind or cash money only?
We await guidance from Government, but we expect the rules will replicate the 2007-13 ERDF programme; namely that contributions in-kind such as the provision of volunteer time or the discounted sale of equipment will not be eligible to be used as match funding. However, where applicable, the donation of land and/or buildings can be eligible where specific conditions are met. The contribution of staff time as match funding may only be included if the employing organisation is either the lead applicant or a named delivery partner in the application.
45. Can projects be co-match funded with fees from the businesses its supports?
We await guidance from Government. High-level information has been published here: England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth programme.
46. How might other funds under the scope of the LEP be used to match fund ERDF applications?
Other funds under the scope of the LEP could be used as match funding subject to a project meeting the relevant funding criteria.
47. Will guidance to help applicants calculate value for money (VFM) be available?
We understand the Government is currently reviewing VFM principles and that details will be available in due course.
48. How strong is the focus on linking Horizon 2020 with ERDF?
The European Commission has suggested that European Structural and Investment Funds and other Commission Funds (e.g. Horizon 2020 – funds 16 which are accessed direct to the EC) can be linked in the new programming period 2014-20. However, it appears that different EU funds cannot be used as match against one another, so the linkage could only be at the strategic level. Projects using ESIF 2014-2020 and H2020, for example, would have to be careful not to cross fund elements of their project.
49. Can ERDF projects be developed to address each of the investment themes described in the ESIF strategy; the most innovative and high impact projects may address more than one theme. How will the assessment of bids address this?
We are awaiting confirmation from Government whether applicants can submit an application that straddles more than one investment theme.
50. For ERDF, are there any excluded sectors e.g. retail?
Until the Government and EC conclude their Operational Programme negotiations, and the Government publishes its guidance we are unable to answer.
51. Can you explain how might the SME equity / loan fund work?
If we make ERDF funding available for equity and/or loan funds, this will be done through professional fund managers, which we will procure. Once the fund managers are in place they will receive and assess applications for funding directly from SMEs.
52. Will those loans for SMEs have to be given at the same 50% intervention rate and the rest be counted as match from private sector?
No. If we set up a loan fund, the match funding will be secured before investments are made in SMEs.
53. Are there any current businesses that are willing to work with SMEs in securing small contracts?
There has been support for supply chain projects under the 2007-13 programme. The managers of these projects may be able to support in this regard. You can find a list of projects here.
54. How are you defining "research infrastructure"?
We are waiting for further guidance form DCLG on this, including the outputs and evidence requirements.
55. Are the disadvantaged urban areas defined?
There are no specific disadvantaged urban areas defined in the D2N2 ESIF strategy.
56. Can you elaborate on what elements you are looking for in workspace and incubator projects?
We are awaiting confirmation from Government that workspace/incubation projects will be eligible for ERDF. Please follow this link to European Court of Auditors report on incubators, which sets out recommendations to the EC for incubator projects for the 14/20 programming periods:
57. For an incubator centre, what can be used for match funding?
Can rental income be used? Will existing buildings introduced be based on valuation of the building or the discounted rent....or any other? We await guidance from Government, but the kinds of activities that are likely to be used as match funding are:
58. Is there a formula to work out the admin resource requirement for an ERDF project?
Is it based on project volume or types of outcomes? No, there is no formula as this depends on the complexity of the project, the outputs, the resources held by the lead applicant and delivery partners. Based on experience of projects we recommend there is a dedicated 100% project manager and dedicated 100% admin resource as a minimum.
59. Will the DCLG prioritise paying claims submitted on time over those which aren’t, and if not why not?
DCLG will aim to review all claims within 20 working days.
60. Why can't the payment of claims be more efficient to help projects with their cash flow?
Claims are processed as quickly as possible, normally within 20 days. If a project is experiencing cash flow issues they should discuss this with the DCLG Project Manager to discuss timescales for submission of claims and processing as we do seek to prioritise projects who notify us of specific cash flow issues.
61. Given that there is a focus on promoting innovation, digitisation and efficiency - will the programme administration and management reflect this i.e. claims processes, record keeping?
The application and claims process will be online. Certified true copies of claims / financial documentation is acceptable and will be stored on the ERDF online IT system.
62. What is the Audit Authority?
The designation of an Audit Authority (AA) is an EU requirement. In England, it comprises auditors within Government who provide an additional check on expenditure after it’s incurred; and also check other aspects of programme eligibility.
63. I have an idea for an ERDF project; who can I contact?
D2N2 is very interested in hearing from partners and providers who are developing ideas for future ESIF funded projects and programmes. Please feel free to send us your initial thoughts for projects using our ‘Big Idea’ template which can be found on our website here. Return to Richard Kirkland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Big Idea templates will be treated in strictest confidence.
We’re not able to advise which projects will or won’t be successful, but we can provide some initial advice and pointers to possible ways forward. However please note that until the England-wide programmes have been agreed by the EC, matters are subject to change.