Frequently Asked Questions
In the light of project discussions to date, we have compiled a list of FAQs which you can find here. This document will be regularly updated. Please do get in touch if you have a query that isn't covered here.
You can get further information by contacting the LIFT team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Eligible Applicants & Beneficiaries
- Eligible Activities & Costs
- Eligible Area
- LIFT Targets
- Application Process
- Local Action Groups & Decision Making
- Match Funding
- Project Stage: Evidencing & Claiming
Eligible Applicants & Beneficiaries
As a SME business owner, can I apply for training for myself?
LIFT Skills training is for employees, so training for business owners is unlikely to be eligible. Where a business has several members of staff who 'own' the business in a partnership arrangement, we can review eligibility on a case by case basis.
Are there age limits for LIFT participants?
There is no upper age limit and we have targets for supporting over 50s in the Programme so older participants are very welcome. For younger people, support is aimed primarily at over 18s, but we may be able to consider some support for people aged 16-18 if a strong case is made.
Can local authorities and government departments apply to LIFT?
We are open to projects ideas that demonstrate collaborative approaches between Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises and public bodies. LIFT money cannot pay for statutory or existing EU funded provision but could support activity that enables people to overcome barriers to access to existing provision.
On the whole LIFT is aimed at community based organisations and networks who already support people who are unemployed or could engage with people who might consider joining their local rural workforce with the right support. Other applicants might have links with, or represent businesses.
Does participating in a LIFT Jobs, LIFT Skills or LIFT Trials project count as ' actively seeking work' for those claiming jobseekers allowance?
We would recommend that whilst developing your LIFT project idea that you consult with local job centre staff as to whether the project activities would be seen as 'actively seeking work'. Also projects should ensure any participant checks this with their Job Centre Work Coach if they have one, before joining the project.
If we are successful and get LIFT funding for our project can we support people that have already been helped by another ESF project?
Yes this is possible. We will be checking at application stage that your project idea is not a duplication of existing statutory or voluntary provision: your project will need to fill a gap. But we know that some people may, over time, access more than one ESF funded project. It is essential however to avoid double counting and you will not be able to claim a project result (outcome) that is not clearly brought about by your project activity/intervention.
Eligible Activities & Costs
Is training in primary agriculture eligible?
Yes, although statutory training is not fundable.
Can I fund health and safety training?
Any training which is a statutory requirement for your business is not fundable
I am a freelance consultant - could I apply for a LIFT grant to give careers advice to rural residents?
Applicants to LIFT will need to show they are already working with people in rural communities. You could consider joining forces with a voluntary or community organisation who already has a high profile in their local area, or one with a track record of supporting local people who are facing a particular barrier to work.
I run my own business. Can I make an application for LIFT Trials grant so that I can offer paid work trials to people?
This might be possible. However we envisage that, as a rule of thumb, LIFT Trials projects will be delivered by an outside organisation offering support to businesses such as your own.
The aim will be to encourage you to consider offering the opportunity to someone you might not normally consider. Perhaps because the person has no work experience at all, or because you would be concerned that they would need more time and support from you than you are able to give. A LIFT trials project can then tailor the necessary support to make the work trial a success.
However if you are recruiting regularly and could offer work trials in your business to a number of people that you wouldn't normally consider, and have a clear idea of what support you would need to enable this to happen, then please do contact us. We can then explore with you whether this might be eligible for a grant direct to you.
We are a voluntary and community organisation. Could we apply to LIFT skills for training courses for our volunteers?
LIFT Skills is for support to rural businesses looking to 'upskill' paid employees to meet a business need. If you have volunteers who are doing their voluntary work to gain skills, confidence and work experience with a view to finding employment, then a LIFT Jobs application might be more appropriate. Contact the LIFT team if you want to discuss it.
Under a LIFT Skills project can we include the cost of our employee's salary / or for backfilling their post whilst they take time out to undertake their training?
For employed participants, the wages and allowances paid by their employer for the time they spend on the LIFT funded activity may be claimed: this can include employers' National Insurance and superannuation contributions. Alternatively, the cost of employing replacement staff to cover for the employee while they attend training may be claimed. But not both. All costs must have supporting evidence of actual salary and time sheets.
If used as part of the project, participant allowances can be claimed. Although there is no upper limit for the allowances paid to participants, it is important to consider the following:
- Allowances must conform to levels within the locality and represents value for money, this must be discussed with the LIFT Programme team.
- Allowances may affect the level of means tested, and other benefits that participants are entitled to, so this issue should be discussed beforehand with your local DWP/ Jobcentre Plus/ Housing Benefit office.
- HM Customs and Revenue may regard some allowances as taxable benefits, so it is imperative to check with them before setting the allowance levels.
Can LIFT assist with the direct costs of barriers to work e.g. childcare, transport?
Yes, provided that the support provided does not duplicate existing provision and any potential impact on benefits is taken into account. Close working with Work Coaches will be important here.
Can we claim travel costs for employees attending training?
Yes, daily travel costs for participants must have evidence to show the actual cost for each participant for each day. For costs relating to external courses, the length of the course, and the cost of travel, board and lodging must be shown
Could a LIFT Skills project pay the remaining 10% of the cost of apprenticeship training for a rural SME business? i.e. the remaining cost after the Apprenticeship Levy has paid the other 90%
Yes we think so. You would have to demonstrate at application stage that any business that is offered this 10% top-up is genuinely in need of the support to enable them to offer an apprenticeship. We imagine this is likely to be offered to small and micro businesses only who are non-levy paying employers.
What training can a LIFT Skills Project pay for?
LIFT Skills can support a very wide range of training for employees of rural SME businesses. For example
- Support to gain basic skills and/or ESOL* (unless this provision is already available to them free of charge)
- Additional costs of enabling an employee to access free basic skills or ESOL provision or to prepare for this
- Generic work skills – eg communication skills, team working etc
- Training that will enable an employee to gain technical and job- specific skills to carry out their job more effectively (eg IT training)
- Training to enable employees to progress in the career and fill a skills gap in that business (e.g. team leadership or management courses)
- Apprenticeships and intermediate, technical and advanced vocational training
- Languages other than English if required to meet a business need
LIFT Skills projects cannot pay for or provide training that is required by law in the workplace or for a particular business sector.
* ESOL is English for Speakers of Other Languages
Under a LIFT Trials Project is there a fixed or minimum duration for the work trial?
Under a LIFT Trials project the duration of the work trial enabled and offered by the employer to an individual can vary, but we are looking for a 3 month minimum duration
Is LIFT strict about funding only activity in rural areas?
Overall LIFT is aimed at people living in rural areas and rural businesses (the only areas that are considered to be urban are Norwich and Great Yarmouth). If you have any queries, please contact us or check the LIFT interactive map. However, we can:
- support an SME rural business that is seeking to upskill employees of whom some live in urban areas (LIFT Skills)
- support SME rural businesses to offer work trials to people with barriers to work who live in urban areas (LIFT Trials)
- support people living in a rural area to secure work in an urban area (LIFT Jobs)
- support people living in a rural area to secure work in Large Enterprises as well as SMEs (LIFT Jobs)
We aim to help some of our participants get a job through our LIFT Jobs project. What counts as a job for your LIFT targets?
The European Social Fund definitions don’t talk about ‘jobs’ as such, they talk about a change in employment status (i.e. someone was unemployed or inactive at the beginning of the project and through that project’s support they become employed or self-employed). The definition of employed is pretty broad:
Employed persons are persons aged 15 and over who performed work for pay, profit or family gain or were not at work but had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent because of, for instance, illness, holidays ,industrial dispute, and education or training. People with a zero –hours contract will be counted as `employed’’.
There are two separate employment ‘status check points’. The first is within 4 weeks of leaving a LIFT Jobs project, and then again 6 months later. If someone is employed at either point then it counts towards the LIFT Jobs targets.
I have a LIFT Project idea. How might I find partners to collaborate with to make it happen?
The LIFT programme offers support to applicants through our facilitation service. The LIFT facilitator will be able to discuss the project ideas and help identify potential LIFT project partners with you. Contact the LIFT team on the contact details provided on the website. We may add a page to the LIFT website for people to register their interest in collaboration on a project.I have a LIFT Project idea. How might I find partners to collaborate with to make it happen?
Can I apply to more than one funding strand for my project?
Yes, though each strand must be considered to be a separate project, meaning claims and evidence must be kept separate.
How will you decide whether my project idea represents good value for money?
For each of the strands we have an Output and Results target that LIFT has to achieve with the £1.1m of total grant funding. We have deliberately not set a value for each of the outputs and results as each project application could have very different target participants, types of assistance and ways of providing it. Each project will need to show how they are calculating their costs as well as their outputs and results in order for us to compare and review the project. You will find that some of your outputs and results are achieved much easier and at a much lower cost than others and we expect that those projects which have a higher cost per participant will need to demonstrate and explain what the extra costs are, and whether there is any added value.
How do I find out more about the State Aid Rules?
‘State Aid’ refers to the rules around how much funding an organisation can receive from the State without it affecting competition. You can find some State Aid guidance on our website. In order to meet EU regulations, we are funding all LIFT projects under ‘de minimis’ rules, which allow a grant of up to 200,000 euros to any organisation in a given 3 year period. The 200,000 euro limit only relates to funding allocated specifically under ‘de minimis’ rules, not to all state funding, and this will be made clear in any relevant grant offer letter. We are expecting that very few LIFT applicants will have a problem with State Aid, but we will work with you to ensure there are no issues. Any support you provide to individual beneficiaries will not be relevant to state aid, but support to SME's may, and will need to be recorded in your processes and they will need to provide a De minimis statement.
How should I calculate the value of the volunteer time that will be used to deliver a project?
The value of the time spent by volunteers to deliver your LIFT project activity will count as a contribution to the match funding for the project. The European Social Fund has strict rules as to how this volunteer time should be ‘costed’. It must be represent the equivalent hourly rate as if someone was to be paid to perform that roles. Projects are advised to calculate the value of their volunteer time using the most recent table of average wages for different work roles that is produced by the Office of National Statistics. The LIFT team has a copy of this table of data and can help you find and equivalent hourly rate.
Local Action Groups & Decision Making
How do the Local Action Groups reach their decisions?
Norfolk County Council (NCC) is the managing authority of the LIFT programme. When receiving an application the LIFT team will assess it against eligibility and quality criteria and the LIFT Finance and Appraisal Officer will generate a recommendation based on those criteria. The relevant Local Action Group members will assess the applications and recommendations, and in discussion with the other Local Action Group members at the meeting, they will evaluate the project and its benefits to the area and economy, making a final decision via a majority vote.
How do we claim cash match funding from South Norfolk District Council and / or Broadland DC?
Both Broadland and South Norfolk District Councils are offering some cash match funding. If you are in their District Council area and wish to apply for this, please ensure you have ticked the relevant box on the first page of the Expression of Interest and mention that you would like to apply and when we process the application, we will automatically inform the relevant District Council and pass on your application for them to review. They only have a limited amount of cash funding available, so some applicants may receive the match funding in full and others may receive a contribution to the match funding. This decision will be made prior to the Local Action Group decision meeting and you will be informed of both decisions after the meeting.
How do we benefit from the In-kind match from South Norfolk District Council?
In order to benefit from the In-kind match, you will need to discuss your project plans with SNDC at a very early stage as you will need to add in their time to the finances on your application forms. You will initially enter the amount of time they will be working with your project in the financial section of your application and you will then need to ensure that they provide you with timesheeted evidence so you can put their time on your claim.
What is the eligibility criteria to receive match funding from South Norfolk District Council and / or Broadland DC?
There are no additional eligibility criteria except that the end beneficiaries (people or businesses) will need to be based in the relevant district council area. If a project extends outside the district council area, you will need to evidence the individuals / organisations addresses as you will only receive match funding for those benefiting within the relevant district and will need to ensure other match funding for those outside the areas.
Project Stage: Evidencing & Claiming
Will we still get our funding if despite our best efforts our project falls short in delivering all our targets?
Applicants will be expected to demonstrate in their application that they already know and have a good track record of working with the people and/or businesses their project is aimed at. It is better to underestimate slightly the take up and results you expect to achieve and plan to exceed this. We will be monitoring the performance of approved projects closely and will support you to take action where this is a risk.
Decisions will be made on a case by case basis. Funding maybe withheld if it is clear that a project delivery has not been managed appropriately
Do we need to get three quotes for anything we purchase to deliver our project?
As a rule yes and you will be expected to have researched all options properly. If there is only one or two options available then you need to explain this. If you choose a more expensive option after getting like-for-like quotes then you will need to provide your rationale and show good reason. You will need to save the evidence including the quotes, and the process and rational for your final decision.
How much paperwork is involved in running a LIFT funded project?
There will be a fair amount of paperwork needed to evidence your project activities, the participants, the results of your project and your project expenditure. However we offer a lot of support to make sure you have all the right systems and forms in place by the time your project starts.