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The content displayed in this archive relates to the Sustainable Competitiveness Operational Programme 2007 - 2013. View 2014 - 2020 Programme
ERDF stands for European Regional Development Fund. It is a fund designed to help stimulate economic development and regeneration in the least prosperous regions of the European Union
The thresholds to be applied are those set out by the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) in Procurement Guidance Note 04/12 – Procurement Control Limits and the Basis for Contract Awards. This can be accessed at the following link
The purpose of the guidance is to set out the Procurement Limits (PCLs) and the basis for contract award for application in all procurements part financed under the EU Sustainable Competitiveness Programme.
Expenditure must have been incurred and paid by the project beneficiary by 31st December 2015, as evidenced by payment records indicating the money has left the bank account of the project beneficiary by 31st December 2015.
Earlier deadlines can be imposed through terms and conditions of Letters of Offer or contracts as appropriate. Additionally, Intermediate Bodies can stipulate an earlier deadline for administrative purposes. Where a beneficiary has continued to make payments up to and including 31 December 2015, every effort should be made to submit financial claims and corresponding papers to the appropriate Intermediate Body as soon as possible thereafter to facilitate essential management verification, vouching and payment processes.
The Managing Authority has stipulated that the default position should be for conclusion of expenditure by 30 June 2015. However, the Managing Authority will consider specific proposals for individual projects to exceed this date. These projects must be identified to the Programme closure team and a risk assessment completed and recorded. These projects must receive intense monitoring over the final period to ensure that there is no slippage and therefore loss of EU funding.
Intermediate Bodies have been delegated the responsibility of identifying projects that are in line with the 3 main priorities of the Programme. This will enable effective delivery of the Competitiveness Programme.
The total funding available through the Programme is €566 million, which has been divided between the various Intermediate Bodies. In turn, each Intermediate Body will have agreed a budget allocation for each of their activities, and subject to that limitation, the Intermediate Bodies will make offers of funding to successful project applications.
It is an EU requirement to ensure that all costs are fully vouched and eligible and that ineligible costs are identified and excluded prior to payment. As such any ineligible expenditure included in the calculation of grant paid or grant claimed is subject to irregularity procedures including invoices against which a credit note is subsequently submitted. Further guidance is available within DFP's Guidance Note 4 on the treatment of Irregularities.
It is sometimes necessary to host morning or afternoon meetings to which representatives of external organisations are in attendance. Generally speaking, the provision of tea or coffee and biscuits at meetings of this kind can be charged to the Programme. Expenditure incurred should be justified and reasonable, and should be consistent with NICS guidance. When guests are entertained at hotels or restaurants, the total cost per head including drinks should not exceed £40, which should be regarded as an upper figure. The element for drinks should not normally exceed one-third of the total bill, however if the food element is for some reason very economically priced, then a drinks charge up to a maximum of £12 per head may be admissible. If no service charge is included in the bill, a tip of 12.5% would be reasonable, but this should be contained within the maximum cost of £40. (DETI Guidelines on the Provision of Hospitality PS 2/93, rev 12/97, 6/03 and 1/07 refers). Click here for the Managing Authority Guidance on Eligibility of Hospitality Expenditure.
Insurance of buildings, contents and for public indemnity are eligible provided that it can be clearly demonstrated that these are directly related to the delivery of the Project or are a requirement of the offer of funding. Where insurance policies are only provided on an annual basis and the project termination date precedes the end date of the insurance policy, the entire cost for the year remains eligible as this is the actual cost to the project and was a requirement of the offer.
ERDF funding can only be claimed on expenditure that has been paid by the final beneficiary. As such journal transfers should only be accepted as evidence of expenditure if they can be traced back to the original cost incurred by the final beneficiary. The transfer must be supported by documentation indicating that the service/goods have been requested, supplied and delivered and that the cost has been transferred from the cost centre of the project (department delivering the activity) and can be traced back to the relevant expenditure incurred by the final beneficiary (which will need to be evidenced through bank statements, receipted invoices or accounting documents of equivalent probative value).
The land purchase (freehold or leasehold) must not represent more than 10% of the total eligible expenditure of the project, unless in "exceptional and duly justified cases", a higher percentage may be permitted for environmental conservation projects. This rule will also apply to any in-kind donations of land to a project. (DFP Guidance Note 5 (Northern Ireland Rules on the Eligibility of Expenditure for the 2007-2013 Structural Funds Programmes).
Not specifically, however Letters of Offer should contain appropriate clauses to protect investment of public funds in a proportionate manner, in line with Managing Public Money Northern Ireland (MPMNI). It may, for instance, be appropriate to require security against a building where grant is being provided for the actual cost of construction or renovation.
The issue (which is a national ruling rather than a specifically European one) is addressed through each Department's Equality Scheme - in the case of DETI's scheme (which is used to govern the Competitiveness Programme), the position is reproduced below.
You should be mindful that some sections of the public might not enjoy equality of opportunity in accessing information. For example, some members of the public may not have access to a computer to obtain information from websites. They may require access to information in different formats due to a visual impairment or their first language. You should consider a range of communication methods to ensure wide access to information. Each communication should be viewed on the basis of how best it should be publicised taking into account equality and value for money.
This practice should equally be applied when publishing notifications of the opportunity to tender through an e-tender web facility.
Proforma invoices are abridged or estimated invoices sent by a seller to a buyer in advance of a shipment or delivery of goods. It notes the kind and quantity of goods, their value, and other important information such as weight and transportation charges. Pro forma invoices are commonly used as preliminary invoices with a quotation, or for customs purposes in importation, however the agreed price may change prior to final sale. It is clear that in terms of proof of payment, these would not be considered as documents of equivalent probative value to an actual invoice. They would only be acceptable in place of a purchase order. The audit trail should demonstrate that the purchase had been approved (if appropriate in terms of internal procedures e.g. Managing Public Money Northern Ireland), and should provide evidence of payment. Evidence of payment is usually obtained from a combination of a valid invoice and the actual payment record (bank statement or BACS system record). Most organisations would require valid invoices for their accounting records. However, it may be that a combination of the pro-forma invoice and a corresponding payment record or receipt from the seller could be considered sufficient in terms of the audit trail.
Prominent site signage must be displayed throughout the period of all infrastructure or construction projects where the ERDF funding is equal to or greater than €500,000. The signage must include the official ERDF logo and the strapline "Project part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland." On billboards and plaques the official logo must be on the same scale as any other logos used and the total EU reference should occupy 25% of the total space. All such Projects must erect a permanent explanatory plaque within six months of completion.
Sub-paragragh 3.3.2 of DFP Guidance Note 5 states that "activities which add nothing to regional development but displace similar existing activities are ineligible." Generally support to specific retail businesses (including capital development) is viewed as causing displacement and is therefore normally ineligible for ERDF support. It may be possible for ERDF to support retailers in acquiring advice on e.g. improving their performance in environmental sustainability or equal opportunities or in respect of an operation which provides generic business advice support but examples like this require to be considered on a case by case basis and you should contact the Managing Authority directly for advice.
Sick or maternity pay can be claimed if it is in line with the organisation's staff policy or contained within the individual's contract of employment and is not recoverable by the employer from the state. (DFP Guidance Note 5 (Eligibility of Expenditure) sub -para 4.4.1).
Sick/maternity pay can be claimed if it satisfies the following criteria:
It is not permissible to use ERDF funding in respect of two employee salary costs for a single post. Where an employee is absent on sick/maternity pay, the use of ERDF should be limited to reimbursement of either the salary costs for the absent employee or the salary costs of the replacement employee.
All salary claims must be eligible in terms of National Rules and fully compliant with every aspect of the Letter of Offer.
The cost of Pay in Lieu of Notice (PILON) is considered eligible under ERDF provided that:
(1) the specific salary costs are approved for grant during the notice period; and
(2) that PILON is a contractual arrangement appropriate to the employee's termination arrangements (and not included in a redundancy arrangement).
If the payment of PILON is to be grant funded, then the period of notice is treated as a ‘funded’ period of employment subject to the start and end dates applicable under the Letter of Offer.
Eligibility of public sector staff is covered by the DFP published "Northern Ireland Rules on the Eligibility of Expenditure for the 2007-2013 Structural Funds Programme" (DFP Guidance Note 5 para 4.1.3 Guidance website link http://www.eucompni.gov.uk/resource-library/guidance) This paragraph states that "expenditure incurred by public administrations, including the civil service, in implementing projects is eligible providing that the activity represents an additional obligation to the organisation". This is consistent with the need to demonstrate additionality in any project funded using public money. Generally, evidence of additional cost would take the form of verification that headcount has increased or that a post would have ceased to exist without the funding. Generally written assurance from the organisation's HR is sufficient for the records. The organisation will itself be responsible for ensuring and demonstrating adherence to wider statutory employment obligations.
DFP guidance note 5 states that "Staff costs are calculated on the basis of actual payroll costs which include gross salary, national insurance contributions and may include employers’ pension costs where there is an established pension scheme which applies to all staff. There should be a clear audit trail created for staff costs from timesheet to payroll record. Staff costs can include reasonable costs arising from the contract of employment".
Analysis of public sector pension schemes has indicated that rates average around 20%. Some public sector schemes contribute 25% and therefore a rate at this level could be considered reasonable. Where a contract of employment indicates that the employer has agreed to make a higher contribution, expenditure included within the Programme should normally be capped at the upper limit of 25%. Where an Intermediate Body proposes to include contributions exceeding 25%, the case must be referred to the Managing Authority in advance for consideration.
Staff working part-time on a Project will come under one of the following 3 categories:
For A: There is no requirement under the Programme to maintain additional time records.
For B: In order to be able to correctly determine the amount of grant payable iro Category B staff, staff will need to maintain time records covering 100% of their time. These records should be signed by the employee and appropriately authorised.
For C: Time records need to be maintained which detail as a minimum, the date/s of the Project activity, a description of that activity and the specific hours spent on that activity. These should contain sufficient detail to permit calculation of salary costs on the basis of the hourly/daily rate. The records should be signed by the employee and appropriately authorised.
For details regarding “appropriate authorisation” of time records and on how to calculate daily/hourly rates please refer to Managing Authority “Guidance On Requirements For An Adequate Audit Trail."
Drawings can be easily withdrawn and then reinvested in the business and cannot therefore be used as an appropriate basis to confirm earnings. As such drawings are ineligible for funding through the Competitiveness Programme. Verification of salary for self-employed persons or sole traders not being paid a "traditional" salary is inherently very difficult. The development of a unit cost methodology is recommended where these types of costs are proposed or necessary and the unit cost must be calculated in accordance with the relevant guidance provided by COCOF (Cocof 09/0025/04-EN) and approved in advance by the Member State through the Managaing and Audit Authorities.
Yes as long as it has been agreed that the asset/equipment will only be used for the project being supported. Each case is viewed on an individual basis. A depreciation schedule is used to inform whether or not the asset will have a value at the end of the project. All documentary evidence in relation to the purchase of the asset will also need to be available as well as project duration. The outcome of this exercise will determine what amount should be paid to the beneficiary. Further clarification, if required, should be sought from the Managing Authority.
To Note: No depreciation can be claimed in respect of property / goods which have benefited from national or European grants at the time of their purchase – ie there must be no double funding
(DFP Guidance Note 5 para 4.4.7 Guidance website link http://www.eucompni.gov.uk/resource-library/guidance)
The purchase cost of second-hand equipment is eligible provided that: it is clearly linked to the delivery of the Project and, where appropriate, has been properly procured. The equipment must not have been purchased previously with the aid of national or European grants. The price of the equipment must not exceed its market value and be less than the cost of similar new equipment and be technically appropriate and comply with any relevant legislation (e.g. health & safety). The calculation of the eligible expenditure relating to the purchase of second-hand equipment should be based on its current value.
Staff training costs are eligible if the training is directly required for the project. However mandatory training required by statutory provisions is ineligible.
Up to 10% of the ERDF funded Programme can be spent on activities which would have historically been funded under ESF provisions. Such activity should be brought to the attention of the Managing Authority so that overall Programme ceilings can be monitored as appropriate.
In all instances, only travel and subsistence costs which are capped at the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) rates will be considered eligible. Organisations can choose to exceed these limits under their own policies but should be aware that only the amount up to the NICS ceiling will be eligible for funding under the Programme. In terms of subsistence, the published NICS rates are only to be used to determine the appropriate ceiling. A link to the NICS subsistence policy is set out below. The specific ceilings which apply are included in the policy at Annex 1.
These are published at: http://online.nigov.net/wwsr-bench.pdf
Value Added Tax (VAT) generally applies to the provision of all goods and services; including hospitality. DFP Guidance Note 5 (Northern Ireland Rules on the Eligibility of Expenditure) states under paragraph 4.1.2: "VAT which is recoverable, by whatever means, is ineligible, even if it is not actually recovered by the sponsor or individual recipient. Irrecoverable VAT can be claimed as an eligible cost provided the claim is substantiated by suitable evidence from the organisation’s auditors or accountants." Proof that the VAT is irrecoverable would need to be retained for the audit trail.
Payments made by company credit cards for goods and services are eligible. However, personal credit card payments will only be considered eligible where the expense has been reimbursed in full by the beneficiary company.
The Managing Authority would highlight that credit cards are often an expensive form of credit and excessive use of this form of credit could be an indicator that an organisation is experiencing cash flow or liquidity issues. Where appropriate, Intermediate Bodies should confirm that the company is solvent as payments to organisations in difficulty are not eligible within the Programme.
The final payment of funds from the European Commission has been made for all EU programmes for 2000-2006 EU funding period. As documentation must be retained for 3 years after final payment is made, IBs, accountable departments and project promoters should be aware that the documentation retention periods for the following EU Programmes are:
BSP – documents should be retained until 14 November 2014
INTERREG III – documents should be retained until 17 SEPTEMBER 2015
PEACE II – documents should be retained until 03 October 2015
IBs, accountable departments and project promoters should check with the managing authority of these funds if they have any queries on document retention.
As all the regulations which relate to the Competiveness Programme for 2007-2013 have been repealed, which regulations are quoted when reissuing Letters of Offer (LoOs) for the 2007-2013 Programming period?
All schemes or projects which operate within the Competiveness Programme 2007-2013 continue to operate within the regulations that relate to that period of funding, as those regulations continue to apply after 31 December 2013 until the scheme or project closes. Therefore, in the case of reissuing LoOs, or in any other instance where regulations are quoted for schemes or projects operating within the Competitiveness Programme, reference should be made to the regulations that applied for the 2007-2013 Programming period.
Article 13 (1301/2013) and article 152 (1303/2013) refer.
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