NFU senior adviser Richard Wordsworth outlines the key points to consider for those who have successfully applied for Round 2 of the Countryside Productivity Small Grant scheme.
What is the latest?
Well, since 28 October, when the RPA issued both Grant Funding Agreement (GFA) acceptance emails, farmers have been progressing with the ordering, delivery and payment for the items they applied for under this scheme. As a result there have already been several hundred grant claims paid. That is good to hear, but there are still many of you out there yet to progress the claim, given that more than 3,000 successful applications were made by 3 September last year.
It is really important to progress with the claim as soon as possible, as there is a hard deadline by which claims and associated paperwork needs to be with the RPA. That deadline is 31 May 2020. If you are ready to claim before 31 May, then do so as soon as possible. The key is to understand what the RPA wants from you when you claim. To help you, here is what the RPA says in its handbook (click here for the handbook).
Your grant will be paid in a single instalment after you have paid for, taken delivery (and installed if required) all of the items on your approved application, they are fully operational, and you have submitted a completed claim template (with supporting eligibility evidence) and eligibility checks have been undertaken. Please submit the following with your claim (tick list):
- A completed claim and declaration template – you will have received the claim template with your GFA email.
- Copies of the invoices (more details in the RPA handbook).
- Copies of your payment evidence – bank statement or business credit card statement to prove the items have been paid in full (more details in the RPA handbook).
- Photographic evidence, showing the equipment in situ and operational, for each item (more details in the RPA handbook).
These should be either photographed or scanned and emailed to Q1BTR0NsYWltc0BycGEuZ292LnVr by midnight on 31 May 2020. If you are unable to send electronic copies of your invoices or statements, please contact us and we will provide you with a postal address to send them to.
It is really important to understand that the RPA cannot extend this 31 May deadline. This is because a third round of this scheme needs to be up and running later this year and the RPA needs to have processed all the Round 2 claims before that can begin.
It goes without saying that reading the guidance is key to successfully receiving the grant funding here. There is some really useful guidance on invoices, bank statements and photographs at the back of the handbook. Please check this information to avoid problems. This evidence is vital as the RPA needs to see clear proof of purchase and payment for the eligible items as well as that it is in situ and operational. So for bank statement information, it needs to show it is the claiming farmer’s bank account that paid for the item; that the invoice shows the items with ideally the grant code used and; that the purchase does not involve offsetting some of that cost against a traded in item.
Furthermore, please understand the rules around purchasing via credit cards, buying groups and hire purchase/leases and how to make the paper trail more user friendly for all concerned. Ideally, purchase the item via a separate transaction from non-eligible items and pay for it separately.
If time is running out, you need to work back from 31 May, in order to not only have the item in situ and operational, but the all important evidence in place, so think about when your bank statements will arrive, and when you will get the invoice to go with the purchase.
It is also key that if you have not already done so, that you speak to suppliers and order items applied for as soon as possible. Please do not leave it to the last minute! Keep in contact with your suppliers to ensure items are keeping to their delivery dates. This is important if the items have a long build time or require importation. We are also in an age where not everything is sitting on a shelf waiting for a buyer to come along.
If everything goes to plan, the RPA will aim to pay the claim within 30 working days of receipt of your claim evidence. If there are any issues or they have a late rush of claims, then claims will understandably take longer to be processed and paid out.
That’s all from me for now and please remember if you are wanting to claim, remember the 31 May 2020 deadline and what needs to happen before then.
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