Last Updated 27/05/2021 11:00am
Community Renewal Fund applications are now closed, thank you for your interest
Organisations with fresh ideas to help boost Devon’s economy and help those people and businesses hardest hit by the Covid pandemic have been urged to submit their bids into a new national fund that opened for applications on April 14, 2021.
The one-year Community Renewal Fund pilot could be worth up to £24m across Devon this year and is a trial for the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund.
The aim of the fund is to encourage innovative schemes to help kickstart the local economy by investing in skills, helping people into employment, supporting local businesses to grow and develop, and helping local communities become more resilient and sustainable.
The UK Community Renewal Fund is a UK Government programme for 2021/22. This aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment. More information is available from the government’s UK Community Renewal Fund prospectus.
The UK Community Renewal Fund (UKCRF) is a £220 million, one-year pilot programme announced by the government in the March Budget. The UK government wants to test delivery approaches for post-EU community and economic support fund and provide additional assistance to local communities to help towards recovery from the pandemic.
Principally this is a revenue fund (90%); the UKCRF has been designed to mirror existing European Structural Funds through a single locally-led fund to be administered by upper-tier authorities, with a focus on supporting those hardest to reach and the UK’s most vulnerable locations.
The UK government intention, in running what are effectively one-year pilots, is to use any lessons learned around appraisal, delivery and effectiveness to inform the government’s permanent approach to replacement EU funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) due to be launched in 2022.
Who can apply
Any legally constituted organisation delivering an appropriate service is encouraged and should feel able to submit a bid.
We want to reach as many parts of the community as we can. We hope to receive bids from a wide range of applicants, including but not limited to local authorities, universities, voluntary and community sector organisations and umbrella business groups.
Private sector organisations and registered charities may prepare bids where they are providing a service to benefit other organisations or individuals.
Some things to note:
- we will not accept bids where we believe the intention of the project is only likely to further their own business or organisation
- candidates can submit multiple bids, but we can only submit a maximum of £3 million worth of bids per place
The amount available is a maximum of £3 million per place. For the purpose of the UK Community Renewal Fund, ‘place’ is defined at the district, unitary or borough scale in England.
Each ‘place’ (district or unitary area) will be able to bid for up to £3m of project activity from the CRF (with a minimum value of £500,000), with the intention that Government will then select an appropriate schedule of projects from across the county to meet a reasonable geographic and typological mix, and reflect their prioritisation of places.
A strong emphasis has been placed on innovating and piloting and projects are expected to set aside funds for monitoring and evaluation in support of this. Encouragement is also given in the guidance for successful bids to be highly deliverable, demonstrate strong strategic fit with evidence around the local need and be developed across more than one of the four priorities – preference is stated for holistic approaches.
Match funding is not specifically requested, although value for money is a key test. This is lessened as a request for projects supporting people into employment. The fund is 90% revenue and 10% capital judged at a national programme level.
Funding for projects will be paid to Devon County Council in two tranches. The first tranche will be paid on commencement (i.e. late July 2021 onwards), and the second tranche on completion (i.e. quarter 1 of financial year 2022-23).
It is for Devon County Council to decide how we will make payments to local projects. We are still developing our thinking on this but given the project timescales, it’s in our interest to ensure that at least some funding is available as early as possible.
If there is more than one organisation applying to deliver a project, a lead organisation must be selected to become the lead applicant (and grant recipient) with the remaining organisation(s) acting as delivery partner(s). In this situation, the applicant would be responsible and liable for the delivery partner(s) and ensuring the project is operating as planned.
Please be aware that spend by 31 March 2022 means all expenditure incurred by this date. Any expenditure that is incurred after this date i.e. relates to activity happening after 31 March 2022, is not eligible.
The government has set out its priorities across 4 key themes but has indicated that there is some scope for local tailoring of priorities and projects by lead authorities.
Projects must deliver activity that is line with the UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus and align with at least one of these investment priorities:
- Investment in skills:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that have an emphasis on facilitating work-based training, upskilling and retraining of the workforce. This includes the promotion of digital skills and digital inclusion.
- Investment for local business:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that have an emphasis on supporting new entrepreneurship and growth sectors of business. This may include projects that support the taking on of new employees and promoting the development of existing staff. This may also include projects that develop new products to market and services that have an innovative design and that support local decarbonisation measures.
- Investment in communities and place:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that give consideration of enabling feasibility studies to deliver local carbon and energy projects. This includes exploration of opportunities for cultural or community led regeneration activity, improving green spaces and preserving local assets. It may also include promoting rural connectivity.
- Supporting people into employment:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that place an emphasis on supporting individuals to access local services or provision into employment. This may include projects that identify and address barriers to employment amongst the hardest to reach, raising local aspiration through sustainable employment, and seeking to support additional basic skills provision.
In selecting the bids that will be forwarded to the UK Government for consideration Devon County Council will prioritise those applications that have the greatest potential to deliver against both the UK Government priorities and Devon’s own priorities for recovery and growth
As part of this approach, the Council is specifically seeking projects which will reduce economic and social inequalities across the Devon area, whether through supporting our most vulnerable residents or hardest hit communities; or promoting wider growth and economic / job creation opportunities.
This will include additional support for:
- Young People aged 19-24, notably those most at risk of NEET or already NEET; those with a disability; those in care / leaving care, or those wider a wider barrier to work or learning;
- Older people (i.e those over 50), particularly those lacking lower levels transferrable skills;
- Those with a disability, mental health issue or other health related barrier to work or learning;
- Rural, coastal and urban communities experiencing significant and ongoing challenges around unemployment, educational attainment, health disparity or other factors which drive local deprivation;
- Communities facing additional economic pressures from the onset of COVID 19, notably those with an over-representation of businesses / employment within the Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure sectors; and
- Business support, skills and training, and regeneration activity which promotes sustainable enterprise activity, additional business innovation, promote new job creation or enable urban renewal within harder to reach locations / hardest hit locations.
Devon County Council would strongly advise applicants to consider the priorities set out through the Team Devon Recovery Prospectus, as well as the Heart of the South West Local Industrial Strategy and Local Skills Report when preparing relevant bids.
The Community Renewal Fund within Devon is open to project proposals from any project covering all or part of the Devon administrative county area. This is made up of the 8 Districts (‘Places’) of North Devon, Mid Devon, Exeter, East Devon, Teignbridge, South Hams, West Devon and Torridge.
As part of the Government’s approach to the Community Renewal Fund however, it has identified 100 ‘priority places’ around the country which it wishes to promote through the fund. Within Devon, these are Torridge and West Devon.
Devon County Council would therefore particularly welcome bids which prioritise activity within these two districts.
Multi Area Bids
The UK Government has identified that added value that may be gained from individual ‘places’ working together through the Community Renewal Fund to provide improved impacts and outcomes.
Devon County Council therefore welcomes bids which seek to incorporate one or more ‘places’ in their submission. This includes bids which incorporate ‘places’ in neighbouring upper tier areas, notably within Cornwall, Somerset, Plymouth or Torbay.
Where projects are seeking however to work across multiple areas, Devon County Council would advise applicants to carefully consider the Government’s approach to priority places, and the relative weighting these will receive through appraisal.
Devon County Council recognises that the strongest bids will often bring together more than one of the investment priorities outlined. As lead authority, Devon would welcome such alignment, seeking to achieve best value and greatest impact from the portfolio of proposals it will eventually submit to the UK Government.
To highlight the types of projects sought, a short sample of blended projects is provided below in illustration:
Spanning all four of the investment priorities listed by the UK Government, and meeting the County Council’s equality priority a single digital inclusion programme may draw together skills and inclusion activity, as well as business entrepreneurship and innovation support activity. This could include the provision of local connectivity hubs, outreach activities to support those furthest from the labour market, small scale capital improvements to rural connectivity that supports business diversification, and other measures and support to contribute to reductions in local carbon production and increase the potential for trade.
Accelerated Growth Opportunities
Seeking to capitalise on new employment within growth sectors such as health and / or green engineering, a project may include elements which promote improved diversity in local recruitment, promote remote or more flexible learning approaches, and support local regeneration activity / specialist capacity building around skills and training. This could include support for new sector-based work academies and bootcamps, rapid upskilling programmes and feasibility work to explore the reuse/ renewal of local assets for learning and employment in core sectors.
Promoting More Resilient Communities
Linking across the four investment priorities, a regeneration project may seek to draw together local services and business opportunities, linking in and empowering local communities to take ownership and build sustainable employment and investment. This might include buy-local initiatives to stimulate the opening of village and town centres, community learning and outreach, and upskilling and reskilling programmes.
Spanning all the investment priorities, an individual enterprise led project may seek to promote student entrepreneurship, social enterprise and new start up support. This may include projects focusing on disadvantaged groups and stimulating business bounce back and growth through feasibility work on green tech. The project may also seek to address social mobility, upskilling of individuals, encourage business leadership and management, and support work hubs and enterprise facilities.
Linking the four themes, projects may focus on developing green skills and promoting employment and new investment opportunities in the green sector. This may include new courses, green business resource efficiency programmes, ties to community energy, natural capital pilots, feasibility of woodland enterprise zone, link to digital biosphere, attracting conservation and responsible tourists.
How bids will be assessed
As the lead authority, Devon County Council will assess all bids submitted. Bids will be assessed against:
- the gateway criteria set out in the UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus – bids that fail to meet these criteria are ineligible for support and will be rejected;
- the extent to which they meet the objectives of UK Community Renewal Fund; and
- the extent to which bids would support the delivery of local growth and employment support priorities as set out through this prospectus.
Following assessment Devon County Council will submit those eligible bids which most strongly meet the UK Community Renewal Fund and local priorities to the UK Government for consideration, up to a maximum of £3m per place.
The UK Government will assess all bids submitted by lead authorities against the criteria set out in the UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus.
The UK Government will announce the outcome of the assessment process from late July 2021 onwards.
Devon County Council will enter into a funding agreement with successful bidders.
The important dates to note are:
- Introduction Webinars – Following our recent webinars that took place on 19 and 20 April, we are offering a follow up webinar to offer help and guidance with the application process as well as answer any questions that have emerged. The webinar will be held on Friday 14th May at 10.00-11.30am, please sign up here. Email email@example.com to register your interest or to receive the presentation from previous sessions.
- 23:59 19 May – deadline for submitting bids to Devon County Council
- 18 June – Devon County Council submits to UK government. We will provide feedback to all applicants.
- July – successful bids notified
- August – contracts signed
- November – first monitoring activity by UK Government
- 31 March 2022 – all activity and spend is complete
We would encourage anyone interested in submitting a bid to make contact with firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
We would encourage anyone interested in submitting a bid to make contact with us as soon as possible by emailing email@example.com
We are hosting a series of webinars for communities, local authorities, universities, voluntary and community sector organisations and umbrella business groups or anyone interested in the UK Government Community Renewal Fund in Devon.
Sign up to hear more about the Community Renewal Fund.
Devon County Council will provide dedicated officers to help provide advice on your bid preparation. All initial bids need to be submitted by 23:59 on 19 May – we are expecting there to be a degree of work to be undertaken following initial submission. Again, we will provide a resource for any advice, information, or guidance.
How to apply
We would encourage anyone interested in submitting a bid to make contact with us as soon as possible by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include contact details and a brief description of your proposal.
You can read the UK Community Renewal Fund prospectus on the GOV.UK website, along with a range of other supporting documentation. This includes technical notes for project applicants and frequently asked questions.
Please find a copy of the presentation and the recording from the UK Government Community Renewal Fund webinar that took place on Friday 14 May 2021. Below you will find questions and answers from the webinar.
If you have any additional questions that have not been answered please contact email@example.com.
The Team Devon COVID-19 Economy and Business Recovery Prospectus sets out Devon’s shared vision for economic recovery over the next three years.
The Devonomics website publishes data and intelligence relevant to the Devon economy. You can also access a range of reports and publications which form the evidence base for Devon’s Economic Assessment.
Please note that this site will be updated in line with any new or additional information being provided by UK Government.
If you require this information in a different language or format please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions and answers from the webinar held on 14 April
The following questions were raised during the webinars hosted by Devon County Council on Friday 14 May 2021.
We refer throughout to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) who are the lead government department for the fund.
Q: Could you clarify this point on your website:
Devon County Council therefore welcomes bids which seek to incorporate one or more ‘places’ in their submission. This includes bids which incorporate ‘places’ in neighbouring upper tier areas, notably within Cornwall, Somerset, Plymouth or Torbay.
A: Most of our neighbouring areas have already closed their process and we are one of the last to close. You don’t have to include one or more places; however, we welcome bids that do.
There is a preference from government to cover multiple areas because it includes value for money but we understand that community projects are community-based and it may be that you have got a project that covers a single place.
Therefore, if you have a project that is based in a single district or market town that is fine and is in keeping with the scheme. If the project is within multiple places – if it is within Devon then the appraisal team will look at it and we will look at the split and we will appraise it as a single project within Devon.
If it covers multiple areas, for example, a LEP-based project that covers Plymouth, Torbay, Somerset and Devon or it’s a project that covers Cornwall, Plymouth and the West Devon area then we have put in place an MOU between the neighbouring authorities to work together on those applications.
This provides us with an option to appraise as a single body or the application can be submitted as part of the process to every place that you are applying to and we will work together as a team to assess the application. If you do submit a multi-area project application, please make sure you flag this within your application, so it is understood. We are working on our approach to contracting where there is a bid over more than one lead authority place.
Q: How does the £500k minimum bid square with the suggestion that feasibility studies will be eligible?
A: We are aware of the challenges of the proposed bid amount – here is the UK Government’s advice: ‘Feasibility studies for delivering net-zero and local energy projects and exploring opportunity for promoting culture-led regeneration and community development through feasibility studies and research are eligible interventions.’
With regards to feasibility studies, it is probably best to have a place-based package where you have got some delivery activity alongside a feasibility study. If you are not already doing that and it’s within a local district area in particular, then do consider discussing this with your local district authority. It is likely that there is a range of activity that they are looking to put together into a single bid. This will be looked into once the bids have been received and how this has worked.
Q: Can we address cash flow if bids are successful and also any procurement rules, given the accelerated delivery?
A: Our preferred claim and payment staging works on a 3, 6 and 8 month pattern, however, we recognise that this may be challenging for smaller organisations. We will conduct finance health checks and will consider the implications during the assessment process.
Q: There seems to be very little reference to projects that enhance wellbeing, mental health and enjoyment of our Devon environment, such as active travel these things are just as important as access to work. I would say that enhancing these areas in Devon would also increase tourism and the welfare of local people. We know employment is going to become scarcer through the advance of technology etc. so anything that improved quality of life is well worth including in the bid.
A: We also agree that this is important. We have built this into our local priorities and will be considering this as part of our own weighting.
Q: Do we plan for delivery from September in looking at project costs/outcomes?
A: We are working on an assumption of a 1 September start date although please make sure that you can be ready to proceed earlier if you can.
Q: What opportunities exist for small companies needing support for say £25k-£50k funding for rapid growth and short delivery by year end?
A: There are opportunities to have delegated grant schemes however there isn’t an opportunity for bids below £500,000 through this scheme. If you are looking for wider small business support it is worth liaising with the Growth Hub at email@example.com or on 03456 047 047.
Q: Are we right in thinking there is only one bid being submitted from DCC to the UKCRF?
A: The way this works is one package of bids is submitted to UK Government from Devon County Council and the individual applications from projects that have been approved by DCC will decide which bids are included in this.
Q: Is the weighting budget based or geographically based? For example, if 60% of the budget is in the priority areas, would this still be deemed as a priority bid if the rest of Devon was included in the bid utilising the remaining 40 percent?
A: This is weighted on the outputs and outcomes, not the budget. If 60% of the value is delivered and 60% of the outputs are delivered, then it would be a priority place resulting in a higher weighting. If, however, it’s 60% of the budget but it’s only 30% of the outputs then it would be considered a non-priority project.
Q: Is there any contribution requirement from partners? I know the overheads rates are low, will that be seen as a contribution?
A: Match is welcomed, this is almost essential in some ways however it is not categorically stated. The advice we would give is to seek to get as much match as you can. There will be more flexibility with employment projects where you are working with individuals into employment around match. If it is a feasibility study, then some kind of support will be required.
Q: Does this include voluntary employment for disabled people?
A: Yes, traineeships, voluntary placements and experience can be included because they are qualitative however it is important to be mindful of the outputs in Annex A of the application form that government are asking for as you need to be able to evidence you can meet this and draw the cash down.
Q: Are you expecting small bids and collating them as DCC into a £500k – £3m portfolio of projects or do all bids need to be over £500k?
A: All bids need to be over £500k. The appraisal team will not be collating small bids, they will be ruled out as they are under the threshold. Applicants will need to pull together their own consortia with district councils and wider partners.
Q: The guidance indicates a diagram/flowchart is this acceptable for this bid, will this be included in the word count?
A: Annex D of the application form confirms that diagrams can be added and gives other clear advice on completing the form.
MHCLG has advised that diagrams should be counted towards the word count to avoid unfair competitive approaches. DCC however intends to treat diagrams pragmatically at this stage unless they are significantly adding text content of the section involved. We would ask applicants however to be proportionate in the level of detail included within individual diagrams.
Q: Are we now talking about subsidy control rather than State Aid?
A: Yes, it is the new subsidy control regime. The subsidy act has not gone through parliament yet so you will be working within the carried over and revised guidance that has fallen out of the revised EU Exit agreement.
Q: What will DCC be doing to ensure that learning from the UKCRF projects feed into a future Devon-wide UK SPF? How will DCC look at the overall impacts – especially Devon-wide projects which estimate a % of delivery in priority places?
A: Individual projects will have an evaluation framework built into them which will capture individual project’s lessons learned and impact. DCC will then look at this as a collected impact which will be pulled together into a single Devon-centric impact study which will capture the individual projects as well as the macro and added value benefits of the wider scheme. Lessons learnt and issues will also be captured throughout the process.
Q: Does the shared prosperity fund cover aviation and the drone industry which needs professional feedback/development?
A: We are unsure if this is covered within the Shared Prosperity Fund yet as this has not been announced by government to date. With regards to the Community Renewal Fund, it does include the ability to work around sector projects. Aviation and the drone industry is an area of growth within Devon so we would be keen to see any projects which show specific skills, employment or business development elements within those areas.
Q: If one bid goes forward is it a yes or no response?
A: There is a three-stage process to this. If the application is an immediate fail because a part of the criteria has not been met, we will be able to provide a yes/no response. For projects where the appraisal has taken place and there is not a strategic fit, we will come back to advise yes or no. A rationale will be provided for the reasons why we have said no. Where there is a remaining list of projects, we will work with these applicants to refine the application.
Q: Can you reconfirm weighting around spend in priority places We’ve had mixed messages. I.e. would 26% in West Devon and 25% in Torridge be favoured or does it need to be 51% in either West or Torridge?
A: If the over 50% of the activity falls within the two priority areas, Torridge and West Devon, then it will be a priority place project however if the activity within the priority areas falls below 50% then it will not be identified as a priority project.
Q: Is the 500 words flexible?
A: There is no flexibility with the word count.
Q: Presumably the evaluation will take place after 31/03? What’s the situation on spend/delivery of the evaluation? (I note it’s 1-2% of TPC).
A: This will be done concurrently, and ongoing discussions are being held around how this will work.
Q: For a delegated grants scheme. Does defrayal mean that the grant-making organisation has to have spent the grant pot by 31/03/22 or that the end beneficiary organisation has to have spent the grant they have received by that date?
A: The activity must be completed by 31 March, in the case of grants this should be taken as when the end beneficiary (for example, the business being supported) has utilised the grant. Costs cannot be defrayed this year for activity that takes place in the 2002-2023 financial year.
Q: Do we require named buy in of local/unitary authority in the application form?
A: No, you do not need validation from any other partner to submit an application to CRF. We would recommend you speaking to your local authority if you have not already done so to ensure alignment and to prevent overlaps/duplication.