Below are answers to ten of the most frequently asked questions for the IRF3 scheme. Any questions which have not been answered here can be found in the IRF3 Policy document.

1. Can applicants who received funding in IRF1 or IRF2 apply?

Yes. Applicants who were successful in receiving funding from previous IRF schemes are eligible to apply to IRF3. However, preference may be given to applicants who have not previously received funding. 

2. How does this scheme differ from the IRF2 scheme?

The third round of the IRF differs from the previous round (IRF2) in a number of ways. Firstly, we have lowered the amount of match-funding that applicants must commit from at least 50% of their total project cost to 30%. Secondly, the maximum grant request has been increased from £20,000 to £30,000. Lastly, applicants are no longer required to apply under a particular 'funding pathway'.  

3. Can an applicant submit a full bid application without submitting an expression of interest?

No. An applicant cannot submit a full bid application without submitting an expression of interest first. Once an expression of interest has been approved by the Council, the applicant will be invited to submit a full bid.

4. How will the grant amount for a particular applicant be determined?

The applicant will request a grant amount in the application form that is based on the estimated total cost of their proposed project and the level of match-funding committed. Copies of quotes/estimates must be provided to evidence those costs.

5. Can businesses from Exmouth apply?

Applicants cannot apply for IRF funding if the items/services to be purchased will be hosted in the urban areas of Exmouth. For example, if a business is registered in Exmouth and operates a shop in Exmouth town centre and another in Sidmouth, they can apply for IRF funding if the equipment purchased will be stored in the Sidmouth branch. 

To view the map of the ineligible urban areas of Exmouth please follow these instructions: once open expand ‘Administrative Boundaries’, then expand ‘Other Administrative Boundaries’ and tick the box titled ‘Rural England Prosperity Fund’. Tick the box titled ‘Aerial Photography’ to view when zoomed in. The areas outlined in red within the district of East Devon are ineligible for IRF2 funding.

6. How can I measure the productivity of my business?

Productivity can be measured in lots of different ways. For the IRF scheme, productivity can be measured by the net income (profit) produced per worker. This can be calculated for a business by dividing your total annual profit by the number of people employed by the business in that year. 

7. Do applicants need to pay back the grant?

No. Only in cases where a grant was paid in error, or where the terms and conditions outlined in the Funding Agreement have not been met, will the Council reclaim the funds.

8. Can applicants apply for funding to buy solar PV panels, heat pumps or other types of decarbonising equipment?

No. A separate scheme called the Carbon Action Fund (CAF) will be launched in Summer 2024 enabling businesses and community organisations to apply for funding to decarbonise. The CAF is the successor to the Culture, Leisure and Tourism Fund launched in 2023. 

9. Can the self-employed, sole traders and those without property costs apply?

Yes. Businesses that do not have fixed property costs or employees are still able to apply, as long as they meet the remaining eligibility criteria. This includes those who run their business from home or on a mobile basis.

10. Who counts as a business?

Social enterprises, such as Community Interest Companies or charities with a trading arm, are eligible to apply for IRF3 funding. Any social enterprise applying must engage in economic activities to be eligible. The application requires either a Company Registration Number, a Unique Tax Reference Number, a Charity Number, or a VAT number. Only organisations who can provide one of these numbers can apply.