Levelling Up Fund Round 2: frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions on the Levelling Up Fund Round 2.
Round two application process
When does the application window open and what is the closing date?
When does the application window open and what is the closing date?
The application portal opened on 15 July 2022 and closed on midday on 2 August 2022. Any bids or supporting documentation submitted after the deadline will not be assessed and will not be eligible to be considered for funding.
You said that places would have a two-week window to submit bids when the portal opened. Why is the bid deadline midday on 2 August?
The application portal will be open from 15 July to midday on 2 August. The additional time accounts for the Scotland Bank Holiday on 1 August, ensuring everyone has at least 2 weeks to put their bids in.
How can places apply for this funding round?
A link to the application form will added when it is available. In the meantime the published application guidance contains questions that will be asked in the LUF Round 2 application form. Before applying, applicants should also familiarise themselves with the prospectus and the technical note that are also available on gov.uk.
Will there be technical support provided to help organisations to develop their bids?
Yes, along with the published prospectus, technical note and application guidance, we have also published recordings of the webinars held with each nation, along with their related slides. As well as this, we have also published a series of technical teach in videos, covering areas of the assessment criteria such as the economic case, monitoring & evaluation and deliverability, along with the slide packs used in these videos.
Capacity funding: can you provide more details on when it will be paid out, what it can and can’t be used for and the time period it is meant to cover.
A single payment of £125,000 was paid at the end of May to those places who are now eligible to receive capacity funding, and have not previously received capacity funding relating to the Levelling Up Fund. The capacity funding will be made available as a non-ringfenced RDEL payment made through Section 50 of UK Internal Markets Act. Places are expected to use that to develop high-quality bids to the Fund. The one-off payment will cover the life of the Fund.
All authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland received capacity funding as part of the first round of the Fund, so will not receive further capacity funding in round 2, even if they have now moved to be a Category 1 place in the Index of Priority Places.
How do I submit more than one application?
Each application is linked to a users’ email address. Only 1 email address can be used on 1 application. In order to submit multiple bids, a separate email address is required for each application.
You can work on multiple bids simultaneously by logging in using the email address related to that application. All applications are available to edit at any time before the application window closes on midday 2 August.
Will bids receive an advantage if they have priority support from multiple MPs?
Formal priority support will only be reflected once in the assessment of each bid, regardless of the number of MPs who provide it.
If a bid receives priority support from multiple MPs the additional support will be considered as part of wider stakeholder support in the Strategic Fit assessment.
Can MPs still provide general support for bids?
Yes. MPs can signal their general support for one or more bids just as other stakeholders can. This will be considered within the Strategic Fit assessment, alongside evidence of other stakeholder support. There are no restrictions on the number of bids that an MP can support in this way.
The Pro Forma used by MPs to indicate their support states that MPs can offer formal priority support for one bid only. Given recent changes, can MPs submit the old Pro Forma to offer support for two bids?
Yes. The Pro Forma was developed and published prior to the recent change in the policy and reflects the initial position. Whilst we have issued an updated Pro Forma to reflect the change, we also recognise that many MPs will have already completed the initial Pro Forma. Therefore, we will accept either version of the Pro Forma as an indication of formal priority support.
Evidence of spend in the 2022/23 financial year is a requirement of successful bids. What constitutes spending and are there restrictions on types or amount of spending?
We are looking to fund projects that can, in the 2022/23 financial year, demonstrate some capital spend on the project(s) they are bidding for. The types of capital expenditure that we would typically expect to see are as follows -
- Project Management
- Design Fees
- Legal Fees
- Site Acquisition Cost
- Property Acquisition Cost
- Enabling works – Pre-Contract - Demolition / Site Preparation or Remediation etc
- Temporary works
- Construction Phase – Cost of new build
- Construction Phase – Cost of refurbishment / conversion
- Project insurance
- Other Fees/Costs
The proportion of expenditure against any of the headings should conform to industry norms and represent value for money.
What constitutes a capital infrastructure project? Could projects such as improvements to I.T./internet infrastructure or a portable event space be included?
The Investment Themes section of the LUF prospectus provides an overview of the types of capital projects that we may expect to see under each of the Funds investment themes. Along with this, Table B1 of the LUF technical note sets out potential outputs and outcomes from projects, and places are strongly encouraged to design their bids so that the outputs delivered align with this list where possible. We would welcome bids that are classified as capital and align with the Funds investment themes and outcomes as detailed in the published guidance.
Can we bid for a project to add onto an existing programme/project?
Yes, providing it meets the gateway and eligibility criteria. It will be important that the application demonstrates additional value from the existing programme/project. All applications will be judged according to the published criteria.
Are you still eligible to bid for funding for a project you have already received government funding for?
Yes, however bidders will need to clearly demonstrate the additional value that further investment will bring. This will be required throughout the different sections of the application, for instance as part of the strategic fit assessment we ask that bidders set out very clearly the case why government investment is needed. All applications will be judged on their individual merits according to the published criteria.
Site acquisition is stated as being an eligible cost for this fund. Where such a proposal is put forward, would the applicant have to show that they had approved plans/planning permission in place for the future redevelopment and use of the site?
The case for investment and management case of the application will need to demonstrate the strategic fit and deliverability of the proposal. Table 1 of the technical note sets out the types of areas that we would expect to see covered.
Package bids: What can be submitted as part of a package bid, can projects be divided into sub-projects and what is meant by “a coherent set of interventions”?
Package bids can include two or three projects. The maximum number of projects within a package bid is 3.
Package bids can include a mix of projects from the Fund’s three investment themes but should not include multiple unrelated investments.
Projects within a package bid should support common objectives and be mutually supportive so that the package delivers greater benefits than the individual projects would achieve in isolation, in this way demonstrating a coherent set of interventions. For example, a transport intervention and public realm regeneration project in a local high street, may together support greater footfall than the projects on their own.
Package bids must clearly explain how their component elements are aligned with each other and represent a coherent set of interventions. Package bids can be concentrated in a specific location or cover a wider area.
How has my remaining bid allowance been calculated?
Section 2 of the technical note sets out how bid allocations for the second round have been calculated for local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Constituencies have been used to allocate the number of bids Local Authorities can make. Does this mean only one bid can be made in each constituency?
No, eligible Local Authorities are able to submit multiple bids in a single constituency area, providing they have sufficient remaining bids as per Annex F of the updated technical note. However, as set out in the prospectus, we expect applicants submitting bids to consider how to spread their proposed interventions fairly and equitably within the authority boundary and across their full range of constituencies, targeting pockets of deprivation as appropriate.
If we submitted a large culture project in round 2 which was unsuccessful, would you be open to reconsidering that bid as a smaller culture project and, if successful, funding it in round 2?
Each bid is considered on its own merits and there is no opportunity to resubmit a scaled-down version of a bid or otherwise amend it once the deadline has passed. As such, large culture bids will be assessed at the funding amount requested. There will not be a provision for any large culture bids which are unsuccessful to be amended and reconsidered as a regular culture bid.
Will a large culture bid count towards our remaining ‘constituency balance’ bid allocation?
Yes, a large culture bid would be counted towards a Local Authorities remaining constituency allowance
If, as a lead authority in category 2 or 3, you submit a joint bid with one or more local authorities in category 1 – does that mean your bid is now assessed as a category 1 bid?
As the updated LUF technical note sets out, when assessing joint bids against the characteristics of place criterion we will reflect the index category that relates to the location of where the majority of the project or projects are being delivered in terms of spend.
Are you able to provide us with further details on the weighting to be assigned to the 4 criteria?
As outlined in the updated technical note, at the assessment and shortlisting stage, the four criteria – characteristics of place, strategic fit, deliverability and economic case, or strategic fit, deliverability and economic case in Northern Ireland – will carry equal weighting. Explanation of the weighting of the sub-criteria is available in the Table 1 of the technical note.
Does a project need to have elements of multiple themes to be successful?
No, a bid can be made of interventions which relate entirely to one of the three themes of transport, regeneration and culture.
Will we be required to publish our bids following the announcement of successful bids?
As set out in section 7.4 of the application guidance, if a bid is successful the applicant must publish a version of the bid, excluding any commercially sensitive information, on their own website within five working days of the announcement of the successful bids.
As with round one, we have conducted an Equalities Impact Assessment. Are we required to provide this in our application?
It is not a requirement to include a copy of the full EIA. We do however ask applicants to summarise the equalities impacts of their bids in section 4 of the application portal.
The costings and planning workbooks have been updated. Do we need to transpose our information on to the newest version of the workbooks?
A list of the changes made to the workbooks can be found below:
- Optional inputs for resource costs have been included in the economic costs worksheet.
- Amended BCR calculation in A4.2
- Some corrections to the formulae, previously there was an issue where the benefits inputted in the first year of the appraisal period were double-counted.
- Capital costs and resource costs (and benefits) can now be included from the first year of the appraisal period rather than from 2022/23 onwards, this is to allow for bids that have used an appraisal toolkit such as the AMAT which already converts costs and benefits into present value costs/benefits to be inputted in the first-year of the appraisal period (so no further discounting occurs).
- Standard discount rates and health discount rates have been included in the worksheet. Applicants can now discount benefits at different discount rates depending on the type of benefit.
- In the package bid workbook, the years of the discounting factor have been corrected
- The discounting of the costs in the cost calc worksheet are corrected
We suggest that applicants review the changes to determine if there are any which would affect the information that they will be submitting. No bidders will be disadvantaged by using an older version of the worksheet, but we encourage applicants, where possible, to use the latest version and to review the changes listed.
Who qualifies as a ‘local applicant’?
A local applicant is defined as any organisation which exists as a legal entity within the United Kingdom and can pass the necessary gateway criteria to make an application to the Levelling Up Fund.
Transport Scotland have said they won’t support the project will this mean we can’t complete pro forma 1 and will fail gateway assessment?
Applicants in Scotland proposing transport bids should complete the pro forma to confirm they have statutory responsibilities for the project proposed. If the bid requires interaction with, or access to Transport Scotland infrastructure, we advise bidders to ensure they have informed Transport Scotland of the bid.
If bidders are unable to get Transport Scotland to sign the relevant pro forma, they are advised to tick ‘yes’ in answer to whether support has been obtained and upload an unsigned Pro Forma in order to pass the gateway assessment.
We will look to engage with Transport Scotland on bids during the assessment process if necessary.
If LUF is used to fund one phase of a larger project, will it only be LUF funding that needs to be defrayed by March 2025 (or by 2025/26 by exception), or all funding relating to the project?
If LUF is supporting an element of a wider project, we would expect the LUF funding related to that element to be defrayed by March 2025 (or by 2025/26 by exception). We should be able to verify there is a complete discrete project at that point, even if other works are ongoing.
Where the project relies on other funding sources to be delivered in full, can the applicant commit to underwriting only the value of monies being requested from the Levelling Up Fund?
As per proforma 8, the Chief Finance Officer must accept responsibility for meeting any costs over and above the UK Government contribution requested, including potential cost overruns and the underwriting of any funding contributions expected from third parties.
If eligible expenditure is incurred to progress plans between the start of the financial year and the announcement of successful applications to LUF round 2, can this be accounted towards the spend profile for the 22/23 financial year for successful projects?
We will accept eligible expenditure incurred from the start of the 2022/23 financial year in the spend profile of successful projects. However, this will be conducted at the applicant’s own risk, Government will not cover incurred costs should an application be unsuccessful in bidding for funding.
Can an award from the Levelling Up Fund be used as match funding for other central government funding streams?
For separate government funding streams, applicants are advised to check the individual application requirements for the specific fund.
When will funding from the Levelling Up Fund need to be spent by?
We would expect all funding provided from the Fund to be spent by 31 March 2025, and, exceptionally, into 2025-26 for larger schemes.
Is the minimum VfM pass mark confirmed?
To be considered for funding, applicants will need to demonstrate that the monetised and non-monetised benefits that the proposal is expected to generate will at least be equal to the costs of the proposal.
How will the economic case for bids be assessed?
The Economic Case section in Table 1 of the updated technical note provides details on what will be assessed under this criteria. Annex C of the technical note then provides further guidance on the assessment of requirements for Value for Money assessment.
How should wider and non-monetised benefits not included in the BCR be accounted in the Economic Case assessment?
The Economic Case assessment should, where appropriate, identify non-monetised benefits and benefits that are not included in the BCR. These should be identified and included as part of the sub-criteria ‘value for money of proposal’.
For large bids of over £20 million in grant value, what additional information do you require?
No additional information is required in your bid for a large transport or culture schemes of over £20 million in grant value and a maximum of £50 million. Applications for large bids should be submitted via the online application portal in the same way as other bids are submitted. For all successful large bids the Department for Transport or Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will require a more detailed business case to be submitted and approved prior to funding being released.
Is there any further information on requirements for successful large bids?
For successful large transport projects, the business case should be in a transport business case format and be compliant with the Green Book’s five case model and the Department for Transport’s guidance on transport analysis (TAG), to assist successful applicants in preparing for this, a checklist for large transport bids has been prepared. For successful large culture bids, these will also need to be compliant with the Green Book’s 5 case model and any further information requirements will be published in due course.
Large & joint bids
Is there a difference between large bids and joint bids?
Yes. Large bids should only be submitted by exception. Transport and culture are the only themes under which large bids are permissible. They can only be submitted by a single bidding entity, and should be for a value of between £20 million and £50 million.
Joint bids must involve more than one bidding entity. They are defined as a single project, or up to three projects that represent a coherent set of interventions. Joint bids can be submitted for any theme or combination of themes, subject to remaining bid allowances, which can be found in Annex F of the Technical Note.
Who is eligible to bid for a large culture bid?
In Great Britain, large culture bids can only be submitted by those eligible local authorities that have a remaining constituency allowance as detailed in Annex F of the Technical Note.
In Northern Ireland, any applicant can submit a large culture bid, with the exception of Northern Ireland Executive Departments who are not eligible to bid for projects under the culture and regeneration themes, where the lead applicant should operate at a more local level.
Who is eligible to bid for a large transport bid?
In Great Britain and Northern Ireland large transport bids can be submitted by any applicant (provided they have the support of the relevant authorities with responsibility for transport – evidenced as part of the application.)
Can applicants with a transport only bid allowance be an applicant in a joint bid with a mix of themes, including culture and regeneration?
Any bid that relies on the use of a “transport-only” bid allowance should be for at least 90% transport (by value).
Can a single local authority with multiple remaining bids pool their bids together to apply for a project over £20m in value?
No, an individual bid from a single authority can be for a maximum of £20 million, unless it is a large transport or large culture bid of between £20 million to £50 million, which can be submitted on an exceptional basis. A single authority cannot pool its remaining bids into a single application.
What is acceptable as local financial contribution?
A local contribution of 10% or higher of bid costs is encouraged. This should be a financial contribution rather than in kind contribution. Project costs that are directly associated with the construction of the new asset and can be capitalised in accounts will be considered as match funding. Any costs associated with day to day running or operational costs once the asset has been built/completed will not be counted.
If a bid is for one or more projects that form part of a larger scheme, can funding towards part of this larger scheme be used as local financial contribution towards the bid?
As set out in the Technical Note a local contribution of 10% or higher of the bid cost is encouraged and will be considered during the assessment. The 10% should be towards the cost of the projects included in the bid.
Who can provide the local financial contribution representing at least 10% of total bid costs?
As set out in Table 1 of the technical note, we encourage a minimum contribution of 10% which can come from a local authority or other third party (public or private sector). This funding cannot be “in kind”. Any contribution made must be in the form of an actual financial contribution. A contribution is expected from private sector stakeholders, such as developers, if they stand to benefit from a specific bid.
If the applicant starts work on their funded element before a decision is made on LUF2, does it still count as match?
If the services in question have already been acquired, it would need to be demonstrated that these were directly linked to the project. Potential match funding will only be considered from the start of the 2022/23 financial year.
Can other government grants be used as match in a LUF R2 bid?
Yes, the local financial contribution can come from another government grant as long as it is part of delivering the LUF project. Applicants are required to confirm the status of funding, when funding is expected to be secured, and any conditions that might be applied to the funding.
Does all match funding have to be defrayed by end of March 2025 and by 2025-26 by an exceptional basis like the LUF grant has to be?
As set out in the published guidance, we expect all funding provided from the Fund to be spent by 31 March 2025, and by 2025-26 on an exceptional basis. Separate to that, a local contribution of 10% or higher (local authority and/or third party) of the bid costs is encouraged and is assessed as part of the bid. It is possible for match funding to be defrayed after the LUF grant if necessary. The departments will assess deliverability risks as a whole, including how secure any future match funding is, how reasonable the timescales are to complete the overall project, and whether the applicant has considered all financial risks with adequate mitigation measures.
Is purchase of premises permitted under the Fund guidelines?
Yes, property purchase is an eligible expenditure for the Fund.
Can the whole cost/value of the asset be included, irrespective of any borrowing/mortgage against it?
If there is a mortgage then the full value considered would be the net value, e.g. the value of the asset less any future cash flow.
Could the cost of land/property be included if the asset is transferred into a separate vehicle specifically to deliver a levelling up fund project?
The value of land/property will be considered as counting towards the 10% local financial contribution. There are some conditions for the use of land/property:
- The land/property must have been recently (12 months or less before bid submitted) valued by an independent, qualified person/body based on open market value.
- Applicants will need to demonstrate that the land/property (or relevant part) will be exclusively for the delivery of the project for an appropriate period (e.g., project lifetime, economic life of the property).
- The quantum of funding to be considered as match funding will be proportionate to the timescale for which the land/building is donated.
What sort of capital project management experience should Northern Ireland applicants demonstrate?
For single and joint bids where the participating applicants are from non-public organisations, each applicant must provide evidence demonstrating that they have delivered two capital infrastructure projects of a similar size and scale of the project. These projects must have started and completed within the last five years. For feasibility reasons, we ask applicants to submit evidence that is used as part of our Stage 1 Gateway checks to determine applicants’ financial and operational capability.
It is up to applicants to set out and explain as part of their application how they meet the required standard. Only the strength of the experience that the bidding organisation and its staff, including board members, can provide should be included. Third party experience will not be considered for the Gateway criteria (though is relevant to the deliverability assessment). The evidence will be reviewed (including how relevant, direct and recent the experience is) as well as the quality of the evidence itself.
In Northern Ireland, if a non-public sector organisation is part of a joint bid where the lead applicant is a publicly funded organisation, does the non-public sector organisation have to meet the additional gateway requirements outlined in the technical note?
No, if the lead applicant is a public sector organisation, any partnering organisation in a joint bid is exempt from the additional gateway requirements, regardless of whether the partnering organisation is a public or non-public sector body. As is usual practice, we would expect the lead applicant to undertake any necessary due diligence on partnering organisations that they intend to work with.
Who is eligible to bid into LUF in Northern Ireland?
As set out in the LUF Technical note, we have confirmed that in Northern Ireland, given the different local government landscape, we will accept bids from a range of local applicants, including but not limited to businesses, universities, voluntary and community sector organisations, and local councils.
Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) departments and their Arms Length Bodies (ALBs) are eligible to bid under the transport theme only. This exception has been made in recognition that NIE departments, (particularly the Department for Infrastructure) have the levers and typically deliver transport projects of the size envisaged by this Fund.
NIE departments and their ALBs are not eligible to bid for projects under the culture and regeneration themes, where the lead applicant should operate at a more local level.
How will local areas with the highest level of need be identified and have funding targeted towards them to address existing regional disparities and imbalances given that Northern Ireland is not part of the index?
As with the first round, bids to the second round of the Levelling Up Fund from Northern Ireland will only be assessed against Strategic Fit, Economic Case and Deliverability. As part of the strategic fit assessment, Northern Ireland applicants will be expected to provide evidence of the specific local challenges and barriers to growth that exist.
Are there restrictions on the number of successful bids an eligible applicant in Northern Ireland can submit in the second round of the Fund?
No. Applicants in Northern Ireland are encouraged to prioritise bids by submitting those that applicants believe will have the highest impact.
Will the NIPPP (NI Public Procurement Policy) or PCR be applicable to any procurement in Northern Ireland?
The Round 1 and 2 technical notes request an appropriate rationale for procurement strategies. Projects in Northern Ireland do not have to follow PCR2015, but may follow the NI Public Procurement Policy – as long as they can demonstrate the project governance is adhering to those rules.
Does the LUF in Northern Ireland support applications directly from private sector organisations for projects which are profit generating for the applicant?
Yes though, as stated in the technical note, a local match funding contribution is expected from private sector stakeholders, such as developers, if they stand to benefit from a specific bid. We would expect the bid to provide a very clear case as to why public investment is needed for this type of project.
Can NI ALBs apply as a joint applicant of a bid?
No, NIE departments and their ALBs are not eligible to bid for projects under the culture and regeneration themes, where the applicant should operate at a more local level.
I am unable to obtain formal legal advice verifying how the bid complies with the subsidy control regime and/or State aid rules for interventions in Northern Ireland. Can I apply without submitting formal legal advice on subsidy control and State aid rules?
Yes, however bids must be supported with a detailed statement demonstrating how the bid activities will comply with relevant subsidy and/or State aid rules. Currently these are our international subsidy commitments, under the UK/EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement, and EU State aid rules continue to apply for aid that affects trade in goods and wholesale electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU. The latter is primarily of application within Northern Ireland but there may be certain limited circumstances where it applies in Great Britain.
See guidance on our international commitments. The guidance is published to help public authorities to determine if an intervention is considered to be a subsidy in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Where applicants are applying for State aid they should identify which GBER provision covers the aid (i.e. training aid, or aid for local infrastructure for example) and how the project meets the conditions that apply. The statement replaces the need for specific questions relating to the GBERs.
Although applicants no longer need to submit a formal legal advice we would still encourage them to seek specialist subsidy/State aid advice prior to submission.
This approach has been reflected in the revised Technical Note and the LUF Applicant Guidance where questions referencing the GBERs have been removed.
There is no Northern Ireland Executive in place; do transport bids in Northern Ireland still need to provide NIE consent to pass the gateway assessment?
The published guidance states that Northern Ireland Executive support is an eligibility requirement for transport bids in Northern Ireland. In practice this means that support from the Department for Infrastructure via Pro Forma 4 is required for transport bids, or bids with transport elements, to pass the gateway assessment. Applicants should seek support from the Department for Infrastructure before submitting their bid. Please note this is not financial support, but support for the overall purpose and objective of the bid, and this may require the Department to outline conditions should the bid be successful.
We are submitting a bid for investment in an airport. As aviation is a reserved matter do we still need NIE consent?
Yes, support should be sought, in the first instance, from the relevant NI Department. However, if after consideration by the relevant NI Departments, the bid is not considered relevant to the operations or duties of those Departments, NI applicants are advised to tick ‘yes’ in answer to whether support has been obtained and must still upload a document in the online application portal to pass the gateway assessment, with the confirmation from the relevant Department that support is not required.
We are not able to progress our application as we have not received a formal Pro Forma 4 from the relevant NI Department. Is there a way around this to allow us to complete our sections of the application prior to receiving the formal Pro Forma 4?
Where an applicant has not yet received sign off for Pro Forma 4, applicants can upload a blank version of Pro Forma 4, with a line to state formal Pro Forma will be uploaded prior to the deadline. This will allow the application to proceed past this stage.
It is vital that, if this is done, a formally approved version of Pro Forma 4 must be uploaded by the bid deadline on midday on 2 August, or the bid will not progress.
In Northern Ireland, is the support of local council where the bid is taking place required for transport projects submitted by an NIE Department?
Northern Ireland Executive departments (and their ALBs) are eligible to bid into the Fund under the transport theme, recognising that they hold many of the relevant powers. As set out in the technical note, where they are the lead applicant we do ask that they engage with and secure the support of the relevant local council for the area in which the bid is based. That is on the basis that we want to ensure that the bid put forwards complements and aligns with other local growth and regeneration activity that is being delivered at that more local level. This is further tested as part of the strategic fit assessment. We will review any comments/ support from local councils on NIE bids in that context.
Last updated 1 August 2022 + show all updates
Updated with new FAQ on transport projects submitted by an NIE Department.
Added new FAQs on MP support.
Added new FAQs on Northern Ireland.
Added new FAQs on application process, bids, funding use, large & joint bids, match funding, property and Northern Ireland.
Levelling Up Fund frequently asked questions updated.