Apply for Growth Deal Funding

The Black Country Growth Deal ‘Made in the Black Country Sold Around the World’ will drive business growth, give people new skills, test new innovations, invest in transport infrastructure and regenerate key sites for housing and employment in the Black Country. The focus is on maximising the economic impact of growth opportunities from the automotive, aerospace and construction sectors, capitalising on the Black Country’s key strengths in advanced manufacturing. 

The Black Country LEP needs to develop an ongoing pipeline of potential projects for the Growth Deal and is seeking proposals for projects that can accelerate the creation of jobs and boost economic growth.

To read further information on the Black Country Growth Deal click here.

How to apply for Growth Deal funding

Applicants should begin by completing an Initial Proposal which will be submitted to and evaluated by Black Country Consortium Programme Office against published predefined criteria. Only if successful will the Bidder be invited to progress through the Business Case evaluation process. 


The Business Case Stages

Initial Proposal

The purpose of the Initial Proposal is to provide a high level overview of the project, and the opportunities it presents and the risks it entails. Applicants are required at this initial stage to specify which of the Black Country LEP Growth Objectives and Measures of Success will be addressed and how the proposal will unlock the identified Growth Objectives.  Clear strategic alignment to the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) is paramount in order for the proposal to be considered. Onus is also on applicants to ensure that a project is state aid compliant. See here for information and guidance on State Aid.

Any organisations or businesses that are interested should download and complete the Initial Proposal form below and email it to PMO@blackcountryconsortium.co.uk


Download the Initial Proposal here>>>

Full Business Case 

The Business Case follows the recommended standard set by HM Treasury and is based on the Five Case Model. The five different aspects which are interconnected but distinct include the Strategic Case, the Economic Case, the Commercial Case, the Financial Case and the Management Case. 

The Full Business Case (FBC) is the detailed planning stage where the applicant will revisit and build on the information supplied in the Initial Proposal. The full business case will be used to inform prioritisation where there are overall programme affordability considerations.

A copy of the Full Business Case and the full set of appendices will be provided by the Programme Office once an Initial Proposal bid has been received and evaluated. 

During the FBC stage of the project lifecycle the bid will be subjected to legal and financial Due Diligence (DD) to be carried out by Walsall Accountable Body and Black Country LEP partners. A contract for grant funding cannot be awarded until full Due Diligence has been completed.

Download the Growth Deal Stage 2 Due Diligence Checklist here.


Live / In-flight projects 

Once a project has received approval from the LEP Board, the Joint Committee and has been awarded a signed Grant Agreement from Walsall Accountable Body it is considered ‘Live’. During this stage of the project lifecycle the Programme Management Office will be responsible for all Monitoring and Performance Reporting for all Projects receiving grant Support. The appointed Project Manager will report fortnightly updates to the Programme Office through completion of a Project Status Report using online reporting tool - VERTO.


Other Useful Documents

Download the Growth Deal Generic Grant Agreement here.

Download the Growth Deal Stage 2 Due Diligence Checklist here

Download the Growth Deal Branding Guidelines here.


Contact the Programme Management Office

If you wish to speak to the Programme Management Office prior to submitting your Initial Proposal, please contact Rachel Goodwin on 01384 471166 or PMO@blackcountryconsortium.co.uk


Your Questions Answered

1. What type of funding is available?

2. What type of schemes can be funded?

3. Who can apply?

4. Will there be a call for funding?

5. Is there a minimum or maximum of grant support I can apply for?

6. Is there a deadline for submissions for funding?

7. What are the key outputs of the programme?

8. How is the Programme managed?

9. What are the respective roles of the PMO and Accountable Body? 

10. What is the first stage of the application process? 

11. How will my bid be assessed? 

12. What are the Heads of Terms? 

13. What information will I need to provide at each stage?

14. How Quickly Would I Receive A Response?

15. What is the Due Diligence Process?

16. What will happen at my pre-contracting workshop, and who needs to attend? 

17. What is the requirement for offering security against a Grant?

18. What is State Aid, and when do I need to consider this?

19. What is required from me regarding procurement?

20. Do I need to advertise through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) when procuring supplies, services or works on behalf of my project? 

21. Are there any specific conditions associated with my grant?

22. What if my project is a Site Investigation or development study?

23. What information will the Accountable Body, Walsall Council, need me to provide to support my grant claims, visits and project audits? 

24. What is Gap Funding?

25. For whom is Gap Funding Available and Where?

26. On What Criteria Are Gap Funding Schemes Appraised?

27. In the Event That My Application Is Successful, How Would Funding Be Paid?

28. What do I do next?





1. What type of funding is available?

The funding available through the Growth Deal is Grant. 

However please note that there are other funds available throughout the Black Country including: 

  • Site Investigation Fund – Grant
  • PWLB Investment Fund – Loan
  • Growing Places – Loan

For business support services and to find out about business funding opportunities including grant, loan or equity funding available visit the Black Country Growth Hub here.


2. What type of schemes can be funded?

The Growth Deal is a capital programme aiming to bring together local, national and private sector funding to unlock key housing and employment sites, create more highly skilled jobs, and support economic growth throughout the Black Country. The LEP is seeking to support projects that will contribute towards our Strategic Growth Objectives:  

  • 5,000 New Jobs
  • 3,200 Business Assists
  • +1,000 New Homes
  • 7,000 Learner Assists

To date the LEP has funded a multitude of capital schemes ranging from expansion to the Wolverhampton Science Park through the Science, Technology and Prototype Centre, enhancing the capacity of Black Country businesses to innovate and exploit new opportunities, to site related projects such as the Goscote Lane Corridor Housing Regeneration, an £88m transformational programme to bring forward a residential development of 741 homes, to transport works to ‘Access Growth’ - a fund to deliver smaller schemes (above £500,000, but less than £5,000,000) which improve access to employment sites and strategic centres.

Further information on the projects the Black Country LEP has awarded funding for can be found here.

In addition to large capital schemes the programme also has provision to fund Site Investigations. Grant up to the value of 200 Euros is available (subject to State Aid requirements) to enable site owners to procure site investigation and technical studies to inform the market, de-risking sites in advance of marketing and to enable a greater understanding of cost implications of identified remediation works. Funding is available in relation to both residential and employment sites.


3. Who can apply?

The fund is open to applications from both private and public sector organisations or, with regards to commercial or residential development, any person with a legal interest in a site within the Black Country and capable of delivery within the short term. The application process is competitive in nature.


4. Will there be a call for funding?

No. The fund is open to bidders for the programme duration (2015-2021). The current round will close when all the funding is committed. However, the Black Country are committed to developing a substantial pipeline of good quality schemes to take advantage of future funding opportunities when and if they become available. Hence applications for deliverable schemes with a strong strategic fit to the Black Country's objectives for regeneration are encouraged.


5. Is there a minimum or maximum of grant support I can apply for?

There is no maximum or minimum amount that can be applied for, provided that any amount of grant required to deliver the scheme is in accordance with state aid requirements, in accordance with block exemptions and permitted intervention levels, i.e. as guidance the Black Country Growth Deal favours to operate at a 30% intervention rate.


6. Is there a deadline for submissions for funding?

There is no fixed closing deadline for receipt of applications. The current round will close when all funding is committed. However the Black Country are committed to developing a substantial pipeline of good quality schemes to take advantage of future funding opportunities when and if they become available. Hence applications for deliverable schemes with a strong strategic fit to the Black Country's objectives for regeneration are encouraged.


7. What are the key outputs of the programme?

The key output is delivery of economic growth, assessed through jobs created, number of business supported to grow, quantum of employment space developed, number of homes developed and number of people upskilled / able to follow a course of learning as a result of capital investment


8. How is the Programme managed?

The Programme is administered and managed under an Assurance Framework through the Black Country Consortium Programme Management Office (PMO) and Walsall Council Accountable Body. The Assurance Framework has been set up to embed best practise, ensure transparent decision making, and to ensure that robust value for money processes are in place. 

The Programme Management Office at the Black Country Consortium manage the Growth Deal programmes on behalf of the LEP. The Accountable Body for the Programme, the organisation who is contractually responsible for administering and distributing the funding to eligible delivery partners ensuring that the programme is delivered with financial probity, is Walsall Council. 


9. What are the respective roles of the PMO and Accountable Body? 

The Programme Management Office provides the decision support behind successful programme management. It is responsible for supporting the programme governance, project processes and day to day management of the Programme, informing the oversight and governance of the programme by the Joint Committee and its relevant sub-committees. It provides information to the Black Country LEP Board advising them of the progress of projects against plan, conflicting priorities and programme risks. It will scrutinise and challenge Project submissions against the SEP and recommend accordingly. 

Walsall Council will be the Accountable Body for the Growth Deal Fund and will:

  • Manage the contractual relationship with the Growth Deal projects, ensuring they meet their contractual targets and that these remain current and up to date; 
  • Provide the Secretariat function for the Joint Committee, Advisory Board and Working Group and manage the smooth running of these meetings;
  • Account for Growth Deal fund, utilising its own internal audit, accountancy and treasury management systems in the delivery of its role. 



10. What is the first stage of the application process? 

Submissions are actively encouraged from any Black Country stakeholder, including public, private and third sector.  To minimize the barrier to entry the first Initial Proposal form has been designed to be as simple as possible to complete but based around the Five Case Model for Business Cases as defined by HM Treasury. The purpose of the Initial Proposal is to provide a high level overview of the project, and the opportunities it presents and the risks it entails. 

See How to apply for Growth Deal funding.



11. How will my bid be assessed? 

Initial Proposals for Site Investigations or Property / Land projects will be submitted to property regeneration consultants for technical assessment. All other Initial Proposals will be submitted to the PMO for evaluation; templates are available here.

Clear strategic alignment to the SEP is paramount. The PMO will be looking specifically; to match the proposal to the 3 strategic Themes and 12 SEP Programmes; for which the Black Country LEP (BCLEP) Growth Objectives and Measures of Success will be addressed; and how the proposal will unlock the identified BCLEP Growth Objectives.

The PMO will seek technical / expert guidance to validate demand as well as state aid compliance. Proposals will either be endorsed/recommended to proceed or returned.  Proposals requiring 100% funding will automatically be returned.  Those proposals that are returned are invited to resubmit.  Guidance will be offered on the reasons for non-endorsement. 

Those proposals that are endorsed/recommended to proceed are invited to submit a Full Business Case. 

Once submitted, the FBC will be evaluated by the Programme Office using a clearly defined scoring model that defines the characteristic of a “0”, “1”, “2” and “3” against the Five Case Model elements of Strategic, Economic, Commercial, Financial, and Management. The score generated will confirm the robustness of the FBC and inform the prioritisation to be carried out by the Funding Sub Group. 

Property / Land project bids will then be submitted to the property regeneration consultants for technical appraisal. The consultants will liaise directly with applicants to gather necessary additional information required to complete technical and cost appraisal. The consultants will also issue and agree a draft Heads of Terms (HoT) with the applicant. The outcome of the appraisal will be a detailed Stage 1 Due Diligence Assessment Report and agreed HoT.


12. What are the Heads of Terms? 

The Heads of Terms are a summary of the Growth Deal Grant Conditions which will apply, and they include provisions specific to gap funding schemes. The full Growth Deal Grant conditions can be found here


13. What information will I need to provide at each stage?

At Initial Proposal stage you will be asked to confirm that you have developed a strategy for compliance with State Aid Legislation, as well as high level outputs and spend profile for your project.

At Full Business Case (FBC) stage, you will need to provide full costings, your assessment of alternative options, a full strategy for meeting State Aid and milestones, outputs and spend profile for your project. You will also need to consider what security against the Grant you will put in place at this stage (see Q.17 below). This will be agreed with the Accountable Body at the pre-contracting stage. The Full Business Case template, with all requirements, can be found here: 

Once your FBC is under development, at the same time you will be asked to start developing your submissions for the next stage of the approval - the pre-contracting process with the Accountable Body. This involves a series of due diligence checks and a pre contracting workshop. At this stage you will be asked to provide a range of supporting information.

Once the project has been approved, Walsall Council ask for information to evidence how you have used the Grant, and information to show you have achieved your outcomes (see q.17 - specific conditions).

Before your project moves to a Full Business Case, you will be asked to confirm that you understand, and are willing to provide, this information to the BC LEP.


14. How Quickly Would I Receive A Response?

A response will be provided to an Initial proposal within a period of 2-3 weeks indicating whether a Full Business Case (FBC) will be invited or not. 

During development of the FBC, applicants will also be required to commence Stage 2 due diligence (see q.15 below – due diligence). which will enable the Accountable Body to provide the appropriate support and guidance from the earliest possible stage. 

Applicants are asked to note that this does not equate to an approval of your project and all work done at this stage remains at the risk of the applicant. 


NON LAND / PROPERTY BIDS

The appraisal is completed by the BCC Programme Management Office (PMO). The PMO will require 3-4 weeks, subject to all the required information provided, to complete their full appraisal, seeking technical / expert guidance to validate demand as well as state aid compliance. 

Once appraisal is completed there a number of approval gateways all bids must pass through as detailed below.

LAND / PROPERTY BIDS

The appraisal is completed by external technical advisors. The technical advisors will require 4-5 weeks to complete their full appraisal and stage 1 due diligence (see q.15 below – due diligence) [purple text is hyperlink to Q.15 section of page], subject to all the required information provided, which will include agreeing draft HoT with both the bidder and the Accountable Body for the fund. 

Once appraisal is completed there a number of approval gateways all bids must pass through, as outlined below. End to End the approval process (post appraisal) will take between 2-3 months.  


I. Funding Sub Group (FSG)

The FSG make recommendations to the partnership (LEP) Board on applications for Growth Deal. The full ToR can be found by clicking here


II. LEP Board – endorse approval of funding award

The Black Country LEP Board has been established since 2012 and currently comprises 13 members; a Private Sector Chairman, 6 Private Sector Members, 1 representative from the social enterprise sector, the 4 local authority Leaders and one representative each of the higher and further education sectors.  The Board will provide the clear vision and strategic leadership and ensure that funds are directed towards the achievement of the objectives of the Black Country Strategy Economic Plan. The full ToR can be found by clicking here.


III. Working Group Heads of Regeneration 

The Black Country Heads of Regeneration (Working Group) oversee the delivery of the programme making key recommendations to the Advisory Board of the Joint Committee. The full ToR can be found by clicking here.


IV. Advisory Board

Act as a strategic advisory body; reviewing and recommending objectives for strategic investment across the Black Country in relation to the Growth Deal. The full ToR can be found by clicking here


V. Black Country Joint Committee – approve award of contract

Established by Dudley MBC, Sandwell MBC, Walsall MBC and City of Wolverhampton Council the Black Country Joint Committee acts as a strategic body in relation to the Growth Deal setting and reviewing objectives for strategic investment across the Black Country, providing a coherent single position on the major strategic issues, agreeing the allocation of spending and major priorities. The full ToR can be found by clicking here.

  


15. What is the Due Diligence Process?

There are two stages – Stage 1 is conducted by technical consultants (if applicable) and Stage 2 by Walsall Council Accountable Body. 

Stage 1 ‘Technical’ Due Diligence will involve full evaluation of each Property scheme bid with a thorough examination of the features of the property and/or site proposal.

Stage 1 Due Diligence is designed to provide a Professional Property bid Evaluation report to the LEP Board and Walsall Accountable Body. It evaluates:

  • Applicants suitability to Contract, through its company structure Track Record and Project Partners
  • Assesses the site and its location and features in relation to the Scheme bid, and comments on the suitability of the bid
  • Assesses the suitability of the Bidders detailed plans for the site / building
  • Comments on the Strategic fit with Black Country Strategic Economic Plan includes three themes relating to People, Place and Business.
  • Fit with Local Council Planning Priorities and guidelines
  • Wider Economic impacts, including progress with local Stakeholder discussions ( who would be affected by the potential scheme)
  • Project options considered, Demand for the schemes, Outputs of the Scheme, and Value for Money offered by the scheme
  • Development Appraisal, Scheme site / Property Values, Cost structures and sources of Finance
  • Bidders ability to deliver the scheme, linked to its track record
  • Potential “conditionality clauses” that would be added to any Contract of Grant award  


Stage 2 Due Diligence is designed to:

  • assess whether the Council can award your organisation a public grant 
  • that you have the appropriate consents e.g. from the landowner or planning authority
  • that you confirm that you will provide the evidence and information that the Council needs to pay you grant and confirm delivery of your outcomes



16. What will happen at my pre-contracting workshop, and who needs to attend? 

Attendees should be able to advise and make decisions on legal drafting, finances and outcomes therefore you should ensure that attendees have the appropriate expertise and level of authority. 


17. What is the requirement for offering security against a Grant?

The Black Country’s Local Growth Deal involves the payment of circa £132m of funding by the Accountable Body, Walsall Council. If Walsall Council cannot demonstrate that all of this £132m of funding has been spent on creating jobs, homes and learning opportunities – and that each organisation awarded a grant has met its contractual obligations – some of the funding may have to be repaid. For this reason, Walsall Council has a requirement that all bids for more than £150,000 of LGF Funding must have an asset (land or property) or ring-fenced funding of equivalent value to the Grant which the Council can access if the project does not deliver what it was funded to do by BC LEP. This is standard practice for local authorities when distributing large grants. Each bidder must consider, before moving to the LEP Board approval stage, what security it can provide. This must be in one of the following forms:

  • A first Legal Charge over land or property;
  • A Performance Bond
  • A bank account with funding equivalent to the Grant over which the bidder has placed a legal Charge in favour of the Council.

No Grant Agreement can be signed until the form of security is agreed between the bidder and the Council. No Grant will be paid until the agreed form of security is in place. The security must remain in place until all outcomes have been delivered. 


18. What is State Aid, and when do I need to consider this?

State Definition and guidance taken from the Government’s website:

State aid is any advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union (EU).

The definition of state aid is very broad because ‘an advantage’ can take many forms. It is anything which an undertaking (an organisation engaged in economic activity) could not get on the open market.

State aid: the basics - Publications - GOV.UK

Before you submit your initial proposal, you must have considered how you will comply with state aid legislation. It is your responsibility, as an organisation in receipt of public funding, to ensure you comply with the requirements of state aid legislation. However, the Accountable Body will check that you have a strategy in place and have taken appropriate legal advice. 


19. What is required from me regarding procurement?

If your organisation has a procurement policy for the contracting of services and supplies then this must be used when securing goods, service or works on behalf of your Growth Deal project.  You must be able to demonstrate this keeping supporting documental evidence on your project file.  If your organisation does not have a procurement policy then the Councils Contract Rules must be used and evidenced, see following tables:


GOODS & SERVICES

Total Contract Value   £
Type of Contract
Procurement Process to be Used
Between £2,500 and up to £10,000
Not subject to the Rules but still subject to Best Value
Recommended at least 2 competitive quotations if available
Above £10,000 and up to £50,000

MINOR 

for goods and services

At least 2 written quotations
Above £50,001 and up to EU Threshold

SIGNIFICANT 

for goods and services

At least 3 written tenders
Above EU Threshold and up to £500,000

MAJOR 

for goods and services

The Regulations apply

At least 3 written tenders

£500,001 and above

STRATEGIC

for goods and services

The Regulations apply

At least 4 written tenders


WORKS

Total Contract Value   £
Type of Contract
Procurement Process to be Used
Between £2,500 and up to £10,000
Not subject to the Rules
Recommended at least 2 competitive quotations if available
Above £10,000 and up to £50,000

MINOR 

For works

At least 2 written quotations
Above £50,001 and up to  £164,176 (EU Threshold for goods and services)

SIGNIFICANT 

For works

At least 3 written tenders
Above £164,176 (EU Threshold for goods and services) and up to £500,000

MAJOR

For works

At least 3 written tenders
Above £500,001 and up to EU Threshold (for works)

STRATEGIC 

For works

At least 4 written tenders
EU threshold (for works) and above

STRATEGIC

For works

The Regulations  apply

At least 4 written tenders



20. Do I need to advertise through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) when procuring supplies, services or works on behalf of my project? 

If you are not a publicly funded organisation and work being carried out is above the relevant thresholds (Supplies and Services £164,176 and Works £4,104,394 these thresholds apply from 1st January 2016 and will be in place until the end of 2017) and the grant contribution plus all other public funds received in support of your project total not more than 50% of the costs then the Councils Contract Rules apply, see above table.  Please note if you have received any other grant as match you need to ensure that the Council Contract Rules also cover the funder’s requirements.

If the amount is more that 50% please follow the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/transposing-eu-procurement-directives



21. Are there any specific conditions associated with my grant?

The Growth Deal grant conditions, which apply to all those in receipt of Growth Deal Funding, can be found here. There may be specific conditions associated with gap funding or property development bids. These will be advised on a project by project basis and will be based on a standard set of conditions called the Heads of Terms.


22. What if my project is a Site Investigation or development study?

There are specific conditions associated with Site Investigations or Development Studies. This type of expenditure is revenue and as the Growth Deal is a capital fund it has to be underwritten or an agreement to repay it to Walsall Council included in the Grant Agreement (‘clawback’). 

This security/underwriting or obligation will remain in place until an asset has been delivered on the Site in question. 


23. What information will the Accountable Body, Walsall Council, need me to provide to support my grant claims, visits and project audits? 

Claims

  • Evidence of spend (transactions) from your financial/accounting system 
  • Copies of invoices /subcontractor certificates (with LGF funded elements or intervention clearly highlighted where applicable)
  • Staff time – payroll evidence, timesheets and apportionment calculation and methodology
  • Evidence of overall achievement
  • Reporting of Progress against targets (milestones and outputs) including reasons for slippage and plans of how target will be achieved following slippage
  • Asset register – an asset register template is provided and will need to be submitted with your claim. 


Visits and Audits

The purpose of these visits/audits is to examine and evaluate the systems of financial and managerial controls that the Grant beneficiaries have in place.  This will involve rigorous testing of financial and performance documentation supporting the claim(s).  The objective of the testing is to confirm that the control systems provide an adequate audit trail supporting expenditure and outputs.

During visits Walsall Council will provide guidance on the evidence you will need to retain on your project files to support future project audits these will include but not limited to the following:

  • Documented evidence in support if the procurement of supplies and services.
  • Documentation to support all LGF expenditure claimed e.g. invoices, timesheets etc.
  • Documentation to support claimed match funding e.g. invoices
  • Evidence to support claimed milestones
  • Evidence to support claimed outputs


24. What is Gap Funding?

Gap funding is a public sector investment mechanism to support the delivery of suitable projects by the private sector that show a deficit between project costs and value.  Project costs may include site value, construction costs, associated fees, finance and developers profit.  It gives the Black Country LEP the ability to assist projects that will significantly contribute to the economic regeneration of the region.

The scheme may support a wide range of speculative or bespoke development projects including site servicing, development of office, industrial, retail, leisure, residential and community related development.


25. For whom is Gap Funding Available and Where?

Any public or private sector developer may apply for Gap Funding to support projects.


26. On What Criteria Are Gap Funding Schemes Appraised?

Projects are appraised against a range of criteria which include regeneration impact, deliverability and value for money against a range of proposed outputs which include land remediated, private sector leverage and outcomes such as new floorspace and jobs created or safeguarded.


27. In the Event That My Application Is Successful, How Would Funding Be Paid?

On the award of funding, the applicant would need to enter into a Grant Agreement with Walsall Council as outlined above.  


28. What Do I Do Next?

A copy of an Initial Proposal form, and a range of documents to inform you about the steps required as part of the pre-contracting process for Growth Deal Grants can be found here. If you wish to discuss any of the information in more detail please contact:


For information about the Growth Deal programme or assessment process:

Rachel Goodwin (Programme Management Office)
The Deckhouse
Waterfront W
Brierley Hill 
DY5 1LW


Tel: 01384 471166
Email: PMO@blackcountryconsortium.co.uk


For specific queries about the Grant Agreement, due diligence process or legal charge requirements:

Verity Baker (Walsall Council Accountable Body)
Walsall Council
2nd Floor Civic Centre
Darwall Street
Walsall
WS1 1TP


Tel: 01922 655550
Email: verity.baker@walsall.gov.uk   


For queries about Gap Funding or Site Investigation funding opportunities:

Chris Thomas, BSc., MRICS
Thomas Lister
11 The Courtyard
Buntsford Gate
Bromsgrove
Worcestershire
B60 3DJ.


Tel: 01527 871 640
Email: chris.thomas@thomaslister.com