Double funding is a situation where the same activity is being funded twice through different Rural Priorities (RP) options or legacy grant schemes.
Double funding usually arises as a result of two or more incompatible options taking place on the same area of land. This need not be restricted to the same RP contract nor the same scheme. This means that an activity grant aided under a legacy scheme cannot receive the same or equivalent funding via RP.
Automated and manual checks by case officers will be made on proposals to try to avoid this situation occurring. However it is possible that contracts may be issued that result in double funding which is only found at inspection or when the case is given further scrutiny.
In all cases where a double funded activity is identified, it must be removed from a contract and any payment previously made must be recovered.
The legal basis for this action arises from both the Rural Development Contracts (Rural Priorities) (RDC-RP) Regulations and the Undertakings of the RDC-RP contract:
Rural Development Contracts (Rural Priorities) (Scotland) 2008 Regulations 8 (4)
Regulation 8 (4) of the Regulations allows the Scottish Ministers to vary an approval of an application as they think fit including any conditions subject to which it was given.
Under the terms of Regulation 8 (4), Scottish Ministers are entitled to amended an application so that it will be eligible for funding and aid could then be paid, albeit it might not equate to the funding originally agreed or expected.
Extracts from the Undertakings of the RDC RP contract wording:
- I/We have not claimed payment under any other funding mechanism administered by the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) or any other public body (except where it is specifically authorised under the terms of the Scheme) for the carrying out of any approved activities which is the subject of the application for aid;
- The land in respect of which the aid is to be paid is eligible land (if the area of land already has a Contract for and/or is receiving funding for an incompatible option on it, then the land is deemed ineligible) ;
- I/We have read the programme guidance on the SRDP website. I/we understand the rules of the scheme and will abide them for the period of the undertaking (this refers to the incompatibilities rules) .
The above undertakings provide sufficient legal basis for Scottish Ministers to amend or revoke a contract and recover grant as appropriate, where a situation of double funding is discovered.
What we will do next?
Where a contract needs amending, a letter will be sent to the beneficiary. This letter is required to be issued to address Regulation 8(5) of the Regulations. It sets out what the Scottish Ministers must do if they wish to vary an approval or the conditions attached i.e. :-
(a) give the beneficiary written notification of the variation or amendment proposed;
(b) give the beneficiary an opportunity to make representations about the proposed variation within such time and in such forms as the Scottish Ministers may require; and
(c) consider any representations.
Any representations should be forwarded to the RP Case Officer, who will then forward to the RP Scheme Manager.
Beneficiaries are required to respond to this letter within 28 days, detailing which double funded activity should be removed. The letter will explain that payments may be delayed if the beneficiary does not reply. Note that depending on the management prescription, we may not be able to agree to the request.
Should the beneficiary fail to respond within 4 weeks, then we will need to write to them again confirming that we will now require to amend the contract as necessary and recover payments as appropriate.