THE SINGLE INVESTMENT FUND
LIVERPOOL CITY REGION

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) has established a Single Investment Fund (SIF) to unlock the economic potential and accelerate growth within the Liverpool City Region. The SIF (Round 1) is now closed for this round. Further information will be posted as available on the outcome of the appraisal and approval process.

Launch of further Round 15 December 2016 SIF: Skills Capital (Round 1a)

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) is now launching a further round of the Single Investment Fund to invite investment proposals under a single theme: Skills Capital.

A skills capital prospectus describing what the Single Investment Fund Skills Capital theme will fund, who is eligible to apply and the indicative level of funds available can be downloaded along with and application pack below. Closing date for submissions under round 1a is 12 noon on Wednesday 25 January 2017.

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DOWNLOAD SIF ROUND 1A SKILLS CAPITAL PROSPECTUS AND APPLICATION PACK

Background

The devolution deal between Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Government, agreed on 17 November 2015, secured a commitment to establish a Single Investment Fund for the City Region. The SIF brings together local and national funds with those secured through devolution and over the next five years it will invest over £250 million in the City Region. The fund will help to deliver the City Region's targets for growth and secure long-term prosperity for our residents and businesses.

The SIF will be invested, in particular, in projects that generate a return so that resources can be recycled to deliver more benefits for the City Region. It will be targeted at projects that maximise our key assets, including our growth sectors. The recently published Single Growth Strategy ‘Building Our Future’ provides a framework to guide investment decisions with a focus on business development, research and development, innovation, skills, infrastructure and homes, the SIF will be aligned with the three Pillars in the Growth Strategy – Productivity, People, Place - and the priorities of our local, regional and national partners.

The first call for proposals under the SIF closed on 9 December 2016. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) is now launching a further round of the Single Investment Fund to invite investment proposals under a single theme: Skills Capital.

Meeting the skills needs of employers is a priority for economic growth and a compelling argument for skills capital investments. Skills are an enabler to drive productivity, increase competitiveness and stimulate the creation of new jobs. Delivering the right balance and mix of high quality provision (including access to specialist centres) with good building conditions, efficient estates and up to date machinery that can better respond to employer demands is essential to unlocking local potential and accelerating growth.

Round 1a call for Skills Capital proposals is open until 12 noon on Wednesday 25 January 2017. Further details and the prospectus and application pack are available here.

SIF: Skills Capital Prospectus

The SIF Round 1a Skills Capital Prospectus can be downloaded here . It describes what the SIF Skills Capital will fund, the levels of funding available and who is eligible to apply.  It also provides guidance on the application process, the appraisal and approval process and the criteria that will be used to assess projects. The application pack can be downloaded here. It contains the Strategic Outline Case application form, Round 1a Application Checklist and copy of the Skills Capital Launch Slides.

SIF funding is available for three types of project:

a) Support the technical skills capabilities of Liverpool City Region learners and workers through new facilities including public/private training investment;

b) Improve the learning environment, particularly for Liverpool City Region priority sector related provision; and

c) Support diversity and the life chances of Liverpool City Region residents to include the provision of high quality learning and pre-employment training environments for those furthest from the labour market.

The minimum scale for project applications will normally be £250,000 of SIF funding. Projects can be combined to form packages or programmes.

 Investment Round 1a

This round of the SIF will fund skills capital proposals. It is not a call for skills revenue proposals.

 

Application Process

The application and appraisal process will be proportionate to the project – with more detailed information being required for large, complex or contentious projects.  For all projects applying for more than £3m, the process will be:

Stage 1: Initial proposal/Strategic Outline Case (SOC) – will provide the underlying justification for the project and will be appraised against the criteria set out below. Successful applicants will be asked to complete an Outline Business Case.

Stage 2: Outline Business Case (OBC) – this will identify the preferred option for delivery from a shortlist of options, and will include a detailed Business Case for the project which will need to be developed to a level where it is capable of being given approval in principle.  If the OBC is endorsed the applicant will be requested to submit a Full Business Case.

Stage 3: Full Business Case (FBC) – this will augment the OBC by adding in particular details of contractual and delivery arrangements, along with confirmation of costs and benefits to the OBC.

The closing date for submissions under Investment Round 1a 12 Noon on Wednesday 25 January 2017. 

Contact details for further information are available at the back of the Prospectus. 

The Single Investment Fund

The SIF (Single Investment Fund) is the key funding tool for the Liverpool City Region, and will address the City Region’s strategic priorities.

Just over £458 million is being invested in the City Region over the next five years as part of the City Region’s Devolution Agreement with the Government.

The Single Investment Fund prospectus will be used to commission and fund key growth projects in areas which include business growth and sector development, research and development, skills development and adult education budget, transport and other infrastructure, regeneration, town centre development and culture.

There are no calls for funding open at the current time. Please see below links to the various Business Case Application Forms. Applicants are requested to utilise the Appraisal Spreadsheet and Summary Spreadsheet where appropriate as part of any OBC or FBC submission.

CLICK HERE to view prospectus

 

LCR CA Award of SIF Funding

Decisions regarding the award of funds from the Single Investment Fund will be listed here, together with information related to State Aid.

 

FAQ

What is the Single Investment Fund?

The SIF has been established by the Combined Authority to unlock the economic potential of the Liverpool City Region. It comprises the Devolution Deal Investment Fund allocation of £30 million per annum and other local and national funding sources.  The level of SIF funding available for the first three years is expected to be approximately £150 million, at a minimum.

What will it Fund?

The SIF will fund activities that deliver economic growth, as measured by Gross Value Added (GVA) and jobs, and that contribute to the delivery of the LCR Growth Strategy ‘Building Our Future’.  A key guiding principle underpinning the SIF relates to ‘Gain Share’.  Where possible therefore, the SIF fund will be invested in projects that generate a return, so that resources can be recycled to achieve further growth.  This includes investment in assets that generate a revenue or capital receipt. 

The only round that is currently open (Round 1a) is for skills capital. The skills capital call for proposals will assist projects that can start spending by September 2017 and complete within 36 months.  Further commissioning and funding calls will be released in the future and publicised through this website, although NB no future calls for skills capital funding (after Round 1a) are planned currently.

What is the Liverpool City Region Growth Strategy?

The Liverpool City Region has a vision ‘to build on its core strengths and capacity for innovation to create a truly global and competitive City Region at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse’. See Link

What funding is available?

The SIF will combine various funding sources into a ‘single pot’, which will be distributed through two mechanisms – commissioned projects which will be invited to submit a SOC and an open call for projects. For the Skills Capital theme, £15-£20m is the indicative funding envelope.

What is your policy on loans?

SIF funding will be provided in the most appropriate form for each project based on the results of a robust appraisal.  This could include: loan; grant;  equity investment or  guarantee.

The amount of funding available for each project will be based on an assessment of the minimum level of finance needed to unlock the project’s delivery. 

Is there a minimum SIF funding request?

Yes, the SIF will fund projects requesting a minimum of £250,000 but projects can be combined to form packages or programmes and preference will be given to proposals that have match funding and lever additional private sector investment into the LCR.

Who is eligible to apply?

The SIF Skills Capital theme is open to applications from the following organisations:

  • General FE Colleges
  • Sixth Form Colleges
  • Employer Providers who offer apprenticeships and other training provision to staff and supply chains (including SME’s) through their own provision
  • Group Training Associations (providers led by a board of employers);
  • Universities (who deliver or plan to deliver Higher and Degree Apprenticeships as a key part of their project)
  • Skills Funding Agency (SFA) registered voluntary and community sector training organisations and social enterprises; (via the Register of training organisations or Register of Apprenticeship training providers)
  • SFA registered Community learning providers including Local Authorities
  • Other Skills Funding Agency approved training providers

However, certain eligibility criteria will apply:

•   the organisation must be able to enter into legal contracts;

•   lead organisations must be able to demonstrate the capacity and ability to deliver;

•   grants will not fund ‘business as usual’ activities; and

•   the SIF fund will reserve the right to audit any invoices in relation to funds provided and will require evidence that they have been spent as proposed.

The lead organisation for each project will enter in to a contract with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as the Accountable Body for the SIF funding.  Funding will be released in arrears once milestones have been reached, as set out in the project’s contract agreement. 

Can an employer be a Lead Organisation (i.e. lead applicant) for a project?

Yes, an employer or provider can be the lead applicant, provided they meet the above eligibility criteria.

What is your application charging policy referred to in the Prospectus?

An upfront and non-refundable fee will be charged on applicants from Stage 2 (Outline Business Case) onwards to cover due diligence (appraisal, legal and financial costs).

How are projects approved?

For all projects, whether commissioned or submitted through an open call, the appraisal and approval process is the same three stage process outlined below. The application and appraisal process for SIF project funding will apply the principle of proportionality – with more detailed information being required for large, complex or contentious projects.

 For all projects applying for more than £3m of SIF funding the process will involve three stages, as follows:-

  • Stage 1: Initial proposal/Strategic Outline Case (SOC) – will provide the underlying justification for the project and will be appraised against the criteria set out below. Successful applicants will be asked to complete an Outline Business Case;
  • Stage 2: Outline Business Case (OBC) – this will identify the preferred option for delivery from a shortlist of options, and will include a detailed Business Case for the project which will need to be developed to a level where it is capable of being given approval in principle.  If the OBC is endorsed the applicant will be requested to submit a Full Business Case; and
  • Stage 3: Full Business Case (FBC) – this will augment the OBC by adding in particular details of contractual and delivery arrangements, along with confirmation of costs and benefits to the OBC.

Each business case submission will build upon and augment the previous stage to avoid duplication and unnecessary effort. For smaller projects (less than £3m SIF support) the OBC and FBC stages may be combined depending on the level and quality of information provided and in keeping with the principle of proportionality.  Projects requesting less than £3m, will still need to submit an SOC for appraisal.

The decision making process follows each of the stages outlined above for projects to be developed and is illustrated below.

When is the closing date for Investment Round 1a and where do I send the submission?

Completed forms for Investment Round 1a should be sent to sif@liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk by the closing date Noon Wed 25 January 2017.

What is a catapult centre?

Catapults are technology and innovation centres where UK businesses, scientists and engineers can work side by side on research and development. The centres work on a hub and spoke model and focus on commercialising research to create jobs and GVA. They are funded partly by Government (via Innovate UK) and via commercial and research income.

Currently in LCR we have no catapult ‘hubs’ but a number of our existing research centres have formal and more informal links to the existing catapults. The CA is interested in proposals that could provide a higher level vocational skills offer linked to one or more of the areas of research focused on by the catapult centres. This would also need to align with existing provision in the City Region linked to higher level skills.

What are sensors and low carbon technology?

A sensor is a device which detects or measures physical properties and can record or responds to it. Examples include light, heat, motion, moisture and pressure sensors. The City Region has existing research strengths in sensor technology (supported by Sensor City University Enterprise Zone and the LEPs LCR 4.0 business support programme). Projects related to this concept may wish to reflect in their proposals how they could share knowledge and support the skills development of these initiatives in a vocational setting, but they don’t necessarily need to have these organisations as funding partners.

The Low Carbon sector is multi-faceted and encompasses energy generation and management, built environment and materials manufacturing as well as transportation (amongst other issues). Bids related to this will need to focus on higher level vocational skills.

What is a construction technology centre?

The Combined Authority is keen to ensure our construction industry skills offer locally remains fit for purpose and is embracing modern construction methods. A construction technology centre could be across one or multiple sites and be via a consortia approach or sole applicant and the Combined Authority would also welcome applications from existing providers. We do not wish to be prescriptive about the type of technologies such a centre would focus upon, but examples may include: steel frame construction, specialist plant operation, raised floor solutions and modular builds.

For Question 3 of the SOC Form, do I have to pick one of A, B or C to describe my project sub-theme?

Yes. For Question 3, please state whether your project is for sub-theme a, b or c of the SIF Skills Capital Prospectus (deleting the other 2 sub-themes). Within this context, please then go on to explain in approx. 100 words which of the Liverpool City Region Growth Strategy objectives the project addresses and how?

To help you do this, the LCR Growth Strategy objectives are set out in Annex A of the SIF Skills Capital Prospectus including those in the People (skills) theme. Responses to this question should provide appraisers with summary information on how any SIF skills capital funding towards your project would support the Growth Strategy. This can then be expanded upon elsewhere in the SOC Form as appropriate (e.g. in Question 5 alongside examples from other local and national strategic documents).

On Annex A of the SOC Form (the embedded excel sheet), do you just fill in the information on the learner benefit Tab that relates to your particular sub-theme, e.g. Tab 3 if you are submitting a project under the sub-theme C (diversity and life chances)?

Yes, please only complete one learner benefit tab in Annex A (i.e. one of A, B or C depending on which of these project sub-themes you are applying under).

On Annex A of the SOC Form (the embedded excel sheet), for Tab D do you complete this only for Specialist High Value equipment, and if so, over what threshold does it become high value?

Applicants should use Tab D to provide as much costing information as possible on any equipment they are proposing to fund as part of the project (including any donated items of equipment which should be noted in the description column of Tab D).  

The type of equipment projects are proposing to fund will vary dependent on project type/sub-theme and sector. Therefore, no set definition of Specialist High Value Equipment has been provided.

Appraisers will then use Tab D to understand what equipment will be bought as part of the project and (e.g. via the narrative you provide in Questions 6 and 7 of the SOC Form) how this equipment will meet skills demand, address barriers/problems and unlock opportunities for learners. If your application is under sub-theme B (Priority Sector Training Equipment / Facilities Improvements), please refer to Section 2.3 of the SIF Skills Capital Prospectus for further information.