Levelling Up Fund deadline is extended
The deadline for bids for the Levelling Up Fund had been scheduled for midday 6th July 2022, but as reported in today's Financial Times, the deadline has now been delayed due to issues with the online application portal.
The portal had been due to go live on 31st May 2022, but less than a week before the scheduled deadline, the portal is still not online. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has therefore decided to delay the fund deadline and has sent emails to this effect to potential applicants for the Levelling Up Fund.
Alexander Rose, a Director in DWF's Public Sector Team was quoted in today's Financial Times saying that there has been a "huge demand for the second round of the fund, following the disbursement of £1.7bn in round one" and that "the government has not made it clear whether there will be a third round, so everyone is bidding in case they miss out".
Jonathan Branton, Head of Public Sector and Competition Law at DWF welcomed the decision, saying "The Government has recognised that there is an issue which is affecting the ability of bidders to submit bids. They have acted correctly, giving everyone the chance to submit applications in good time".
He added, "This is a highly competitive fund. Bidders should use the extra time to make sure their bids are as strong as possible, including setting out a strong case as to how they will comply with Subsidy Control law."
Subsidy Control Law in the Levelling Up Fund
The Levelling Up Fund Prospectus states that "Where applicants do not adequately demonstrate that the LUF award is compliant under the UK Subsidy Control Regime or State aid rules then the project could be considered ineligible and the application may be rejected."
Therefore bids which fail to properly explain how they comply with Subsidy Control rules are at risk of being rejected. DWF's recent webinar on Subsidy Control compliance can be viewed here.
The decision to put back the Levelling Up Fund deadline is sensible in light of the IT problems. Questions will naturally be asked whether this will also lead to a delay with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund investment plan submission date in August, thereby delaying the delivery of more much needed regeneration projects. In our view, bidders should make the most of the extra time to prepare bids to ensure that all elements, including compliance with areas such as Subsidy Control, have been properly considered.