NEW ANGLIA LOCAL ENTERPRISE PARTNERSHIP MICRO GRANT SCHEME GUIDANCE FOR APPLICANTS (August 2016)

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1 NEW ANGLIA LOCAL ENTERPRISE PARTNERSHIP MICRO GRANT SCHEME GUIDANCE FOR APPLICANTS (August 2016) The Micro Grant Scheme is part of the Business Growth Programme delivered by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (New Anglia) in partnership with Nwes, Menta, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Suffolk County Council and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The Micro Grant Scheme provides direct grant funding to local Micro, Small and Medium sized businesses to support one or more of the following: growth and expansion, introduction of new products or services, improvements to productivity and efficiency, and may also create new jobs. Potential applicants who intend to make a formal application to the Micro Grant Scheme must read and ensure they understand all the content of this Guidance before they apply. Please note, we cannot be held responsible for any advice on eligibility you receive from third parties with respect to the Micro Grant Scheme There are no formal deadlines for grant applications, which can be submitted at any time. The Application Form can be obtained from the New Anglia Growth Hub. The Micro Grant Scheme offers grants between 1,000 and 10,000. All enquiries regarding the Micro Grant Scheme must be directed to: New Anglia Growth Hub Felaw Maltings (South Kiln) 42 Felaw Street, Ipswich, IP2 8SQ tel.:

2 1. ARE YOU ELIGIBLE? 1.1. Business size and available level of grant funding. The Micro Grant Scheme may support Micro, Small and Medium sized businesses (SMEs). Please see Table 1, below, outlining the maximum levels of grant funding available to eligible applicants. Table 1: Level of grant funding between 1,000 and 10,000 available to eligible applicants 1 Business size (All data must be relating to the last two approved accounting periods and calculated on an annual basis) Grants awards of up to 10% of total eligible costs Grants awards of up to 20% of total eligible costs Grants awards of up to 30% of total eligible costs Micro Fewer than 10 employees and annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding 2m 2 * Small Fewer than 50 employees and annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding 10m * Medium Fewer than 250 employees and annual turnover not exceeding 50m and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding 43m * (De Minimis 3 regulations apply) No * - If a proposal is to be based in an Assisted Area Legal entity. Applicants may be sole-traders, partnerships, limited companies, social enterprises, not-for-profit businesses and charities, as long as they are engaged in an economic activity Sectors. The Micro Grant Scheme is open to applicants from most sectors; however, businesses in the primary agriculture and horticulture, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry, steel, synthetic fibres, retail (including farm shops and post offices), care sectors, health and medical services, financial services, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, estate and employment agencies are not eligible. 1 To access a user guide to the SME definition go to 2 The official Commission exchange rate is updated monthly and can be accessed here: 3 The total De Minimis aid which can be given to a single recipient is EUR200,000 over a 3-year fiscal period. The sterling equivalent is calculated using the Commission exchange rate applicable on the written date of offer of the De Minimis funding. 4 To access an interactive map of Assisted Areas go to Page 2 of 8

3 1.4. Growth and expansion. The Micro Grant Scheme supports both growing and expanding businesses wanting to continue their expansion and new businesses with a potential to grow. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that their business is viable, has good growth potential and will be self-sustaining in the long term. The scheme cannot support businesses whose balance sheet indicates recent or present trading difficulties (a definition will be provided by a Business Growth Adviser from the Growth Hub). 2. IS YOUR PROPOSAL ELIGIBLE? 2.1. Location. The Micro Grant Scheme may support only Norfolk or Suffolk based proposals Purpose. A Micro Grant Scheme grant may be used to support one or more of the following activities: Growth and expansion of the business; Introduction of a product or service that is new to the business; A measurable improvement in productivity; A measurable improvement in efficiency; Creation of jobs Readiness of the proposal. Applicants may apply for a grant when their proposal is ready to commence. All necessary permissions, licences, such as planning permission for example, must be in place before submission of a grant application Available funds to support the proposal. Applications can only be made if the applicant has already agreed and can evidence all the remaining funds. The following forms of funding sources are acceptable for the scheme: Bank Finance; Asset Finance (certain types only); Company funds; Director or private individual contributions; Private or personal investment; Private or personal loans; Venture capital investment. The evidence that you will need to provide to substantiate the availability of funds may take the form of bank statements or borrowing facility agreements, finance company offer letters, evidence of outside investment in the business or owners funds etc. Funding from UK Government or local authority grant programmes, EU funding, National Lottery, other New Anglia funds, programmes or initiatives, are not eligible. Future cashflow or profits, or in-kind support (public or private) which does not represent actual funds are also not eligible Need for grant funding. Applicants will also be expected to demonstrate why they require a grant, what difference it will make to their business and why they have been unable to secure all the funding they need for the proposal from other financial sources and this will form part of the assessment process for your application. Grants cannot be used to support proposals where other funding appears to be available or where the proposal would proceed regardless. Page 3 of 8

4 3. WHAT COSTS ARE ELIGIBLE? The Micro Grant Scheme will only support well considered proposals which lead directly to and are essential to business growth and efficiency. Costs which are not directly related to the proposal, e.g. routine repair, maintenance etc., are not eligible. Please see Table 2, outlining the main categories of eligible costs of a proposal. Table 2: Eligible costs of a proposal Premises (construction, purchase, extension, improvement) Fixtures and fittings, furniture Plant and equipment, machinery and tooling Not expenditures that are required to simply comply with national or EU standards Eligible costs IT Equipment, software and licences Professional (legal, planning, architectural) fees Creation of a new website related to the proposal (e.g., to launch a new product or service) Marketing cost Consultancy services (provided by an external consultant) Costs for participation in fairs/trade shows (including costs for renting, setting up and running a stand for participation in a fair or exhibition) Only if it forms part of a capital proposal Not regular updates or advertising Should be related to the proposal and not to be a general cost of the business including regular advertising Not consultancy fees related to your grant application, routine tax consultancy, regular legal services, or advertising Eligible costs should not include VAT unless you are unable to reclaim it. All proposal costs claimed must be supported by invoices and bank/credit card statements. Costs that cannot be evidenced, for example your own time or labour on software or marketing materials, cannot be included. No spend is allowed before you formally accept your grant (see section 4.4). This is checked by way of invoice dates and bank statements or other payment evidence. Any expenditure incurred prior to formal acceptance will be deducted from your eligible cost and your grant will be reduced as a result. Page 4 of 8

5 4. HOW TO APPLY FOR FUNDING? Table 3: Micro Grant Scheme Application Process 4.1. Application Applicants wishing to apply for a Micro Grant should first contact the New Anglia Growth Hub (see the contact details on page 1). A Business Growth Adviser will arrange a meeting to discuss your proposal with you. If your proposal meets the eligibility criteria of the Scheme, a Business Growth Adviser will provide you with an Application Form and help you to complete the document. Please note, handwritten forms will NOT be accepted. A hard copy of your completed Application Form, signed in accordance with your normal signing arrangements, i.e. the usual number of owners, directors or shareholders, along with supporting documents, must be provided to the Growth Hub. You may send the documents to the Growth Hub electronically in the first instance. Please note, your grant application will not be taken any further until the Growth Hub have received an original signed hardcopy of your Application Form Assessment Having received your Application Form and supporting documents the Growth Hub will pass all the documents to Nwes, our delivery partner, who will assess the application and make a recommendation to the Grant Panel. Nwes will undertake a detailed assessment of your proposal based on the information that you supply in your Application Form and the supporting information that you provide. You may be asked for additional information during this process, to enable an assessment of, for example, eligibility, value for money, evidence of procurement activity (separate regulations apply, your Business Growth Adviser will provide you with guidance on this). Page 5 of 8

6 Your application will also be assessed in terms of the wider marketplace for your products and/or services and the implications that grant support might have on any competition. Once assessment of your grant application has been completed, Nwes will prepare a Report on your proposal and a grant recommendation and this will be submitted to the Grant Panel who will take a final decision on your grant application Grant Panel An independent Grant Panel is responsible for making decisions on grant applications on the basis of the analysis prepared by Nwes and the information that you have supplied. The Panel s decision which is final will be relayed to applicants at the earliest opportunity. If your grant application is rejected by the Panel, an explanation will be provided. Please note, there is no right of appeal against the Panel s decision. New Anglia is prepared to consider inquiries from applicants should they feel that their Application has not been handled in accordance with the process outlined in this Guidance document Offer Letter If your grant is approved, Suffolk County Council (SCC), our delivery partner, will send you a formal Offer Letter as soon as possible after the Panel s decision has been taken. The Offer Letter will include: The amount of the grant award and State Aid regulations under which it has been approved; Details of the eligible proposal costs and the costs eligible for the grant payment; Conditions of the offer - both standard conditions and any requested by the Grant Panel; The outputs (if applicable) to be achieved as result of the proposal; How to claim your grant; How your project will be monitored by SCC; Contact information for your grant caseworker at SCC. The Offer Letter, Standard Conditions and any other attachments sent to you, form the Grant Agreement between you and SCC. This is a legally binding Agreement, and you should ensure you read and understand all the content. If you are prepared to accept the grant and conditions a copy of the Agreement should be signed in accordance with your business usual signing arrangements, and returned to SCC Grant Claims, Payment and Monitoring Once you have formally accepted the grant offer, you may begin the eligible spend. Please note that any costs relating to your proposal that have already been commissioned, paid for in full or in part or otherwise definitely initiated before a formal Offer Letter has been issued and accepted will not be eligible for inclusion. In your Claim Form, which will be supplied by SCC, you will be asked to provide a breakdown of eligible expenditure incurred. You must also provide supporting documentary evidence, such as certified copies of invoices and bank statements confirming payment, to support your claim. You will be reimbursed by SCC as soon as they have received a satisfactorily completed claim. Failure to supply all required information will result in a delay in payment. Page 6 of 8

7 Record-keeping is important. You will also be asked to provide evidence of, for example, the creation of new jobs and further details of supported assets with a value in excess of 1,000. You must keep a satisfactory record of all your expenditure and other evidence we may require until we notify you that you may destroy them. Your proposal will be monitored by SCC throughout and possibly beyond the period of its delivery to ensure that the progress you have originally outlined has been achieved. SCC also reserves the right to visit any grant recipient to ensure that the grant has been used for the purpose intended as stated in the Grant Agreement and inspect records to show that costs have been evidenced by the applicant and make a formal assessment of the impact and/or outcomes of any plans or works implemented. Grant recipients are obliged to cooperate with this process. 5. FURTHER GRANT APPLICATIONS If you have already been successful with a grant application and would like to submit another application for funding for a new proposal, this is acceptable, as long as you can demonstrate that previous activity has been completed as planned and conditions have been complied with. A new proposal must not duplicate your previous application in any way and the funding to be used must be different to that used as part of your previous application. In the event that available grant funding is oversubscribed, priority will be given to new applicants. 6. PUBLICITY Successful applicants will be expected to acknowledge the support and involvement of New Anglia Business Growth Programme when publicising their funding and growth plans. A European Regional Development Fund logo must appear on all associated publicity materials: from stationery and e-media through to site boards (where applicable) and you will be expected to use the following wording This project was supported by the New Anglia Business Growth Programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Further guidance will be provided with your Offer Letter. We reserve the right to approve, in advance, any publicity or other material to be released to the media in connection with the Micro Grant. New Anglia and its partners also reserve the right to use selective information about your proposal for promotional and publicity purposes. 7. DATA PROTECTION We will use the information you provide to us to assess your grant application, to administer and analyse applications, and for our own research purposes. We may give copies of all or some of this information to individuals and organisations we consult when assessing applications, administering the grant scheme, monitoring grants and evaluating funding processes and impacts. These organisations may include accountants, external evaluators and other organisations or groups involved in delivering the grant programme. We may use personal information provided by you in order to conduct appropriate identity checks. Personal information that you provide may be disclosed to a credit reference or fraud prevention agency, which may keep a record of that information. If you provide false or inaccurate information in your application or at any point in the life of any funding we award to you and fraud is identified, we will provide details to fraud prevention agencies, to prevent fraud and money laundering. Page 7 of 8

8 8. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives members of the public the right to request any information that we hold. This includes information received from third parties, such as, although not limited to, grant applicants, grant holders, contractors and people making a complaint. If information is requested under the Freedom of Information Act we will release it, subject to exemptions, although we may consult with you first. If you think that information you are providing may be exempt from release if requested, you should let us know when you apply. As a Public Authority, Suffolk County Council is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act As part of the Council s duties under the Act it may be required to disclose information forming part of any contract to anyone who makes a reasonable request. The Council has absolute discretion to apply any exemptions under the Act. The Freedom of Information Act recognises that there will be valid reasons why some kinds of information may not be disclosed, such as if its release would damage commercial interests or if it would contain personal information about another individual. SCC is not obliged to deal with vexatious or repeated requests or, in some cases if the cost exceeds an appropriate limit. Information supplied for the purposes of evidence or supporting information for the Micro Grant Scheme that any applicant wishes to remain confidential must be clearly marked as confidential. This marking will be considered in the event of a request under the Freedom of Information act, but the preservation of confidentiality cannot be guaranteed due to the statutory obligations of the public authority In addition, information will be supplied for statistical purposes to the Department for Communities and Local Government and to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, although this will generally be anonymous. Page 8 of 8

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