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Marches Investment Fund Guidance


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Marches Investment Fund Guidance


  1. Introduction


1.1 General Overview

1.1.1 The Marches Investment Fund (MIF) offers an exciting opportunity to help address the need for investment to unlock development that will create much needed homes and jobs in the Marches area (Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin).


1.1.2 The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (MLEP) has been awarded over £8.1 million by the Government from the Growing Places Fund to provide capital loan funding for stalled projects that, following the injection of capital funding, will be able to start quickly and unlock economic growth. The Fund will also provide loan assistance for projects to complete their final stage feasibility studies (revenue funding).


    1. Funding (Capital and Revenue)

1.2.1 Funding will be provided in the form of a loan, equity or, joint venture and will be subject to interest charges and an arrangement fee. Investments made by the MIF will be on a loan basis repayable at a competitive market rate using the EC Reference Rate (Annex A). This calculation is undertaken by the Fund’s financial advisers and takes into account the project risk, creditworthiness and collateralisation of the applicant.
1.2.2 Repayment timelines to the Fund and interest charges will vary as noted above, but greater weight will be given to schemes that can complete repayments in less than five years. Applicants should specify in their application their required repayment period. Funds will be recycled to enable further awards in future years.
1.2.3 The Fund is inviting Expression of Interests (EOI) to be submitted from private developers, local authorities and other interested parties for the second funding award round which opens on Thursday 19th November 2015 and closes at 10.00am Friday 19th February 2016. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their EOI submission in late March 2016. Successful EOI schemes will be invited to proceed to full application stage, comprising a detailed Due Diligence appraisal, before a decision is taken on each full application and a funding contract issued.
1.2.4 Upon acceptance of the loan an arrangement fee is payable by the borrower to cover MIF administration costs. The arrangement fee must be paid before loan funds are released. The charging scale is detailed below for MIF capital projects:


Value of Marches Investment Fund awarded

Total

Less than £1m

£5,000

£1m - £1.9m

£12,000

£2m - £2.9m

£15,000

Over £3m

£25,000

1.2.5 If your application is for final stage feasibility work, the arrangement fees will be set at 1% of the loan requested. For example:




Value of Marches Investment Fund awarded

Charge to be levied 1%

£25,000

£250

£50,000

£500

£100,000

£1000




    1. Scheme Criteria

1.3.1 The Government has provided the following aims for the Fund, to help steer investment:


  1. To generate economic activity in the short term by addressing immediate infrastructure and site constraints and promote the delivery of jobs and housing



  1. To allow local enterprise partnerships to prioritise the infrastructure they need, empowering them to deliver their economic strategies

1.3.2 Selected schemes will be able to demonstrate clearly how they make a strategic contribution to the delivery of The Marches LEP Vision, set out in the Strategic Economic Plan (www.marcheslep.org.uk), and will also deliver strong value for money and good economic outputs, including jobs, housing and private sector investment.




    1. What can be funded by MIF Capital Projects?

1.4.1 The MIF can fund a range of land and property related projects, including highway improvements, site access, utilities, flood defence, commercial/ industrial floorspace and housing developments. The minimum capital loan request is £250,000 and must not exceed 60% of the value of the completed project.
1.4.2 Listed below are a number of project examples that could secure funding, subject to due diligence checks:

  1. Mixed use schemes with funding providing new infrastructure e.g. a new distributor road, onsite flood mitigation measures and housing or commercial floorspace.

  2. Public infrastructure including roads and utilities to open up business parks for commercial and leisure development.




  1. New transport bridge to accommodate other highways and infrastructure works around a town to open up development which otherwise could not proceed.




  1. Job-creating, bespoke training floorspace to improve innovation and new technology within priority business sectors enabling the Marches area to compete internationally.


1.5 What can be funded by MIF Feasibility Projects?

1.5.1 Proposals for final stage feasibility funding should be explicit in describing how the proposed work will, in the short-term, lead to investment within the Marches that will make a strategic contribution to delivering the priorities in the MLEP Strategic Economic Plan. The MLEP is able to support final stage work that accelerates the delivery of capital investment schemes. Feasibility work applications should be for studies that can complete within 8 months from the date of funding approval. The request for loan funding must not exceed 50% of the cost of the study and the minimum loan is £20,000 with a maximum loan capped at £100,000.


1.5.2 Example studies that could be funded include:


  1. Feasibility into upgrading infrastructure that is at capacity and constraining new development, such as for a culvert.

  2. Technical reports relating to Ecological or Archaeological Surveys or options analyses for decontamination of brownfield land or route planning for an access road.

1.5.3 The Fund cannot be used to pay for planning application fees.

1.5.4 A decision to fund the final stage feasibility through the MIF does not guarantee funding for the subsequent capital project, but developers may apply. Applicants who complete their feasibility studies through this Fund could then be eligible for investment from other sources of capital investment to become available via MLEP and other government departments over the forthcoming months. Opportunities will be highlighted on the Marches LEP website and on the Marches Growth Hub website.


1.5.5 All applicants applying for MIF will be subject to the same application procedures and Due Diligence processes. There is no automatic entitlement/approval.


  1. How to Make an Application




    1. Application Process

      1. The deadline for applications for MIF Capital Projects and MIF Feasibility Projects is 10.00am Friday 19th February 2016.



Step 1: Complete the appropriate Preliminary Project Assessment (PPA) Form which can be found on the Marches LEP website, and email it to the MIF Fund Manager, Caroline Cattle, on caroline.cattle@marcheslep.org.uk

Step 2: Request an Expression of Interest Form from the Fund Manager, complete it and return it to her by email.

All potential investments must be able meet the criteria in the PPA before an EOI Form will be issued.
Step 3: Return the completed EOI by no later than 10.00am on Friday 19th February 2016 by e-mail to caroline.cattle@marcheslep.org.uk.
Step 4: Send one signed hard copy of the EOI to:
Caroline Cattle, Marches Investment Fund Manager

Marches LEP

Cameron House

Knights Court

Archers Way

Battlefield Enterprise Park

Shrewsbury

SY1 3GA


If you wish to discuss the eligibility of your project before completing the PPA or EOI please contact Caroline Cattle, the Fund Manager on 01743 462026

      1. Interested parties may also wish to discuss potential projects in advance of submitting a formal proposal. A list of the relevant contacts is set out below within each Local Authority. These contacts will be able to assist with providing information on the strategic context / contribution your project could make to delivering the Marches vision and how your scheme may complement other projects occurring in your area, which may strengthen your application.



Administrative Area

Local Officer

Contact details

Herefordshire

Nick Webster

E: nwebster@herefordshire.gov.uk

T: 01432 260601



Shropshire

Chris Hill

E: chris.hill@shropshire.gov.uk

T: 01743 252273



Telford and Wrekin

Phil Edwards

E: phil.edwards@telford.gov.uk

T: 01952 384022


2.1.4 The Expression of Interest Form will be used to determine both applicant and scheme eligibility. Please note any proposal submitted without using this template will not be accepted.


3. Appraisal of EOI and Full Applications

3.1 Receipt of completed PPA and Expression of Interest applications will be acknowledged by email within 48 hours of receipt. EOIs received after the deadline may not be accepted within this round.


3.2 EOIs will be appraised by a Local Appraisal Panel overseen and supported by our Independent Technical Advisor. Short listed schemes will be required to provide full application details to enable a technical/Due Diligence appraisal to be completed before a loan contract can be issued.


  1. Data Protection

4.1 To undertake the assessment of your application we need to examine data about you and your company.  When we ask you for this information, we will protect it, ensure that nobody has access to it who should not and will not keep it longer than necessary.

4.2 In undertaking the assessment, some details you provide will be shared with members of the Local Appraisal Panel, our Independent Technical Advisor and the approval board for the loan fund. Each member will be required to sign declarations of interest and confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements prior to undertaking this work.

4.3 In return, we ask you to give us accurate information and tell us as soon as possible of any changes. We will not give information about you to anyone else, or use information about you for other purposes, unless the law allows us to. Shropshire Council is the data controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act. If you want to know more about what information we have about you, or the way we use that information, please ask us.  If you would like to contact the Data Protection Officer, the address is as follows: Data Protection Officer, Shropshire Council, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 6ND.

5. Decision and Time Frame

5.1 It is anticipated that shortlisted EOIs will be notified week of 21st March 2016 and will then proceed through to the Due Diligence stage. Full technical appraisal can usually be completed within two weeks of receipt of full information. More complex projects may take longer. The interest rate that can be offered for a loan will be determined through this appraisal (see Annex A). Loan agreements will be issued by Shropshire Council, the accountable body for the Fund. The loan agreement will detail when and how the loan funds will be released, the repayment terms, conditions and the agreed outputs that applicants will be required to monitor and report back upon, in order to measure the impact of the project in the Marches LEP area.


6. Appeal

6.1 Decisions made are final and there is no right of appeal. Applicants may make a new application to the MIF when the next round is launched, subject to funds being available.




  1. Issue & Repayment of loan

7.1 Applicants will be expected to deliver the full project outputs and outcomes by an agreed date. Applicants will be responsible for ensuring that claims and monitoring reports are submitted on time covering for example construction progress and job creation updates. The project loan funding drawdown and monitoring forms will be made available to shortlisted projects during the due diligence stage. Funds will normally be released on evidence of expenditure. The repayment of loan period is open to negotiation subject to all the fund being repaid within five years from acceptance of the loan. Early repayments will also be accepted (and will not incur an early settlement charge) and, in this instance, any agreed interest payments will be adjusted in line with the revised repayment date.

7.2 Timescale for feasibility loan payback will be shorter, and will be dependent on the nature and scale of the study/ scheme.




  1. ADDITIONAL USEFUL INFORMATION

8.1 More information about the MLEP and its Strategy is available on www.marcheslep.org.uk . The strategy can be found under ‘downloads’ tab and then ‘Marches Investment Fund’.
ANNEX A
8.2 The MIF will consider the interest rate that can be offered in connection with a loan at the due diligence stage. This will be based upon the detail of each individual applicant and project.
8.3 The interest rate matrix below shows the minimum margin. Interest rates will be based on our assessment of the creditworthiness of the borrower and the collateral offered. The EC reference rate is also applied to the loan, which is currently 1.02% (as from 1st June 2015). For example, a project with ‘satisfactory’ creditworthiness and ‘normal’ collateral would have a margin of between 2.20% and 4.0%. Taking into account the current reference rate, this will lead to an initial interest rate of between 3.22% and 5.02% being applied to the loan.


Creditworthiness

Collateralisation

High

Normal

Low

Strong (AAA-A)

0.60%

0.75%

1.00%

Good (BBB)

0.75%

1.00%

2.20%

Satisfactory (BB)

1.00%

2.20%

4.00%

Weak (B)

2.20%

4.00%

6.50%

Financial Difficulties (CCC or below)

4.00%

6.50%

10.00%

8.4 Each application will be assessed on its own merits and the interest rate offered will be final and will not be subject to negotiation.


8.5 Interest rates offered to Local Authority applicants will be set at minus 0.2% of the 5 years Public Works Loan Board annuity rate. The Public Works Loan Board rate changes on a daily basis and the rate will be set at the point of loan approval.
8.6 It is expected that the applicant will have negotiated and signed the loan agreement within 6 months of the date on which commencement of contracting is authorised. There may be some circumstances where this period is extended by the MLEP. It should be noted, however, that failure to conclude negotiations and sign the contract within the agreed period may result in the loan offer being withdrawn.

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