Below are answers to ten of the most frequently asked questions for the IRF2 scheme. Any questions which have not been answered here can be found in the IRF2 Policy document.
1. How does this scheme differ from the original IRF scheme?
The second round of the IRF2 differs from the original (IRF1) in a number of ways. Firstly, applicants must now be able to match-fund at least 50% of their total project, with the maximum grant request now capped at £20,000. Secondly, applicants must now apply under a particular 'funding pathway'. Thirdly, community organisations are not eligible for IRF2 funding, as a new Culture, Leisure and Tourism Fund is currently being developed to provide funding for these types of organisations. The CLTF scheme is expected to launch in June 2023.
2. Can I apply if my project doesn't fit into one of the three funding pathways?
No. A project must meet the criteria of one of the three pathways in order to be eligible for IRF2 funding.
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. What is the definition of a 'rural business'?
Businesses applying under the Rural Innovation or Farm Diversification funding pathways must be rural businesses. A rural business is a business which is operating in any part of East Devon excluding Exmouth.
To view the map of eligible rural areas 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. Is job creation a requirement of the scheme?
Not necessarily. A business must be able to demonstrate that the project will either create new jobs, safeguard existing jobs currently under threat or directly increase productivity within the business.
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?
Those applying under the Net Zero Innovation pathway can purchase equipment such as solar PV panels, air-sourced heat pumps, etc. where this allows the business to develop a new product, service or technology with a strong net zero focus. Applicants applying under this pathway cannot use IRF funding to purchase equipment that will decarbonise the production or provision of an existing product or service.
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 eligibility criteria. This includes those who run their business from home or on a mobile basis.
10. How can a project create new employment without directly funding a salary?
Although IRF funding cannot be used to directly pay a salary or substitute lost income/wages, it can be used to purchase goods and services that will lead to additional employment. For example, the proposed project may be to expand the business or to diversify, with project costs enabling the business to purchase new tools and equipment that will require additional workers to operate them.