RBDS: 1.0 Introduction

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Section 1     Introduction


Contents in this section                                                                                            

1.1. Background to Grant Programme

1.2 Levels of Grant Award

1.3 Who can apply?

1.4 Who cannot apply?

1.5 What can be funded? 

1.6 What cannot be funded?

1.7 What should I submit with my application?


1.1         Background to Grant Programme


The Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme’s (TRPSI) Rural Business Development Grant Scheme aims to support the sustainability, recovery and development of rural micro-businesses across Northern Ireland by providing a small capital grant for the business.  The TRPSI Programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and this grant Programme is administered and managed by local Councils. 


An online system has been developed for the 2022 Scheme and all eligible business must attend a pre-funding workshop and submit their application online.  Details of pre-funding workshops are available by contacting your local Council.

The application form link will be made available from 4th May 2022.


1.2     Level of Grant Aid


The Scheme can provide funding of up to 50% of costs for capital items up to a maximum of £4,999.  The minimum grant awarded will be £500.  The total cost of the capital project must be a minimum of £1,000 and must not exceed £20,000.  Applicants must provide the remaining match funding towards the project. 


This is a competitive process and all grants awarded will be determined on the basis of merit.


1.3     Who Can Apply?


Grants are available to support the recovery, sustainability and development of existing micro businesses based in rural areas who have not previously received funding under the TRPSI Rural Business Development Scheme 2021, which was administered by local Councils.


You can apply for a Rural Business Development Grant if:

  • The business is based in a rural area of Northern Ireland.  A rural area is defined as an area with a population of less than 5,000 residents, plus the areas of Strathfoyle, Newbuildings and Culmore in Derry/Londonderry Urban Area (OUA) and Milltown, Helens Bay, Crawfordsburn and Groomsport in the Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area (BMUA). If you are unsure if you are in an eligible rural area, please contact your local Council office before submitting your application.

  • You are an existing, registered  private Business or Social Economy Enterprise that is actively trading commercially; evidenced by providing your self-assessment number or Limited Company details and sales turnover details.

  • You have not received funding under the TRPSI Rural Business Development Scheme 2021.  Businesses that received funding under the TRPSI Rural Business Development Scheme in 2019 and in 2020 are eligible to apply.

  • Your business currently employs less than 10 full-time equivalent employees (based on full time 30 hours per week and part time at least 16 hours per week).  

  • You are appropriately insured or prepared to obtain appropriate insurance if awarded a grant (building, contents or public liability insurance as appropriate).  No evidence of this is required at application stage, but you will be asked to confirm insurance cover at grant claim stage and provide it should your claim be selected for an audit check.

  • You have a dedicated bank account used by the business.  No evidence of this is required at application stage, but you must confirm you have this as part of your application declaration.  Bank statements showing payments clearing from this dedicated bank account are required at claim stage.

  • You have attended a pre-funding workshop before the application call closes.  Details of workshops are available by contacting your local Council using the details in Appendix 1.

  • You can provide a detailed specification and two ‘like for like’ quotations for each item to be purchased which meet the guidance stated in section 1.7.

  • You can complete your project before 31 October 2022.  It is anticipated that grant offers will be made in late August / early September 2022.  Your project cannot commence until you receive a formal offer of funding.  Projects must be completed by 31 October 2022, with all works completed, onsite and operational, paid and through the bank account by this date.

  • You are aged 18 or above at the application deadline.  You may be asked to provide evidence of this at some point in the assessment process, if you are awarded a Letter of Offer.

  • Only one application can be accepted per business/ legal entity.

  • Sports Clubs and Community Groups can only be considered if they are commercially trading and generate sales revenue from selling goods and services to customers who are not exclusively Club or Community Group members.  The grant can only be used to support the sustainability, survival and/or development of this commercial element, and not for the club or community group on its own. Projects that can be supported from other funding sources, such as Sport NI, are not eligible to be considered under this scheme.



1.4     Who Cannot Apply?


The grant scheme cannot support:


·                     Businesses based in urban areas.

·         Businesses who have received financial assistance from the TRPSI Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2021.

·         New start businesses who have yet to commence trading (all business sectors). 

·         Farmers, or anyone registered to a Category 1 DAERA Business ID, undertaking mainstream agricultural activity. 

·         Farm diversification projects where the diversified activity has not started trading.


All other existing registered businesses and social economy enterprises (that are commercially trading) based in a rural area are eligible to apply for support.




1.5     What can be funded?


This is a capital grant scheme to support the purchase of new capital items of equipment or machinery or to set up an e-commerce website.  The minimum spend on one, or a combination of, eligible items is £1,000 and your project must not cost more than £20,000. If you are VAT registered, the lower and upper thresholds are based on net cost of items.  If you are not VAT registered, the lower and upper thresholds are based on gross cost of items.


The maximum number of items, or grouping of items that you can purchase under this scheme is six.


Examples of eligible expenditure includes:


  • Computer equipment, eg computer, laptop, printer.

  • Computer software (outright purchase; ongoing license fees are not eligible).

  • E-commerce Websites to allow online purchase capabilities.

  • New equipment/ machinery.

  • Mobile machinery, such as scissor lifts, forklifts, ride-on lawn mowers.

  • Covid-19 business recovery equipment, including free standing screens and hand sanitizer units (the hand sanitizer is not eligible).


1.6     What cannot be funded?


The following items cannot be funded under the Scheme:


·         Equipment or machinery costing less than £1,000 or more than £20,000. Individual items may cost less than £1,000, but you must have a minimum eligible spend of at least £1,000 through a combination of items.

·         Second hand equipment, including refurbished equipment.

·         Servicing of existing equipment.

·         General maintenance or refurbishment works.

·         Capital Improvements, building works, refurbishments of any property (commercial or residential) or any project that requires Building Control permission or planning permission.

·         Purchase of port-a-cabins, pods or any other building.

·         Labour costs not directly associated with the installation of purchased equipment or build of e-commerce websites.

·         Projects that have already started prior to a Letter of Offer.

·         Any resource items, such as marketing materials, information websites (with no online purchasing capabilities), training courses, feasibility studies.

·         Motorised vehicles, including vans, lorries, cars, boats, bikes, quads or any other form of motorised mobile vehicles that can used as a means of transport.

·         Any activity or action that is a statutory requirement of your business (eg for Health and Safety purposes such as Personal Protective Equipment) or the responsibility of another government department.

·         Business running costs, such as staff costs, rent, rates, electric, insurance, stock.

  • Bank interest charges, referral fees and foreign currency transaction charges.

·         Consumable items used by businesses that are replaced regularly because they wear out or are used up (for example hand sanitiser, masks, gloves, visors, high-visibility vests for staff, printer ink).

·         Equipment related to the provision of additional bed space for existing accommodation providers.

·         Staff Uniforms or clothing, including personal protective items.


Please note this list is not exhaustive, your local Council Officer can speak to you about your individual project.



1.7     What should I submit with my application?


Your application form must be fully completed online and all supporting procurement documentation uploaded to the online system– this includes all quotes, specifications and supplier e-mails. 


  1. A detailed specification for each item you are applying for, if the quotations supplied are not for identical items. 

  2. A minimum of 2 quotes/price-checks for each item you are applying for.


Total Estimated

Cost per Item

Action & Minimum Number

Up to £5,000

At least 2 price-checks per item from different suppliers / internet quotations

£5,001 - £20,000

At least 2 Written Quotes per item from different suppliers

(internet quotes cannot be used)


Procurement Guidance

Ø  A detailed specification should be prepared for each item to include delivery, installation costs if applicable.  This is a detailed description of the design and/or materials used to make something or the minimum standard of workmanship and materials required to meet your needs. All suppliers invited to quote should be issued with the specification, and email evidence of this will be required, for example copy of email sent to supplier.

Ø  The online system only permits six budget lines so where it is possible to purchase items from the same supplier, you should group these items into the same specification. 

Ø  At least 2 quotes from 2 separate suppliers should be sought for each item. You or a business that you are an owner/partner/director of, are excluded from quoting for the supply of goods, services or works to a project that you may be offered funding for.

Ø  If quotations are being sought or provided from any member of your family or extended family then the relationship must be advised in writing to the Council prior to any procurement activity and evidence provided within the procurement documentation.  In these cases, you are required to provide 3 quotes i.e. two independent quotes in addition to the family member quote to provide sufficient comparison of costs under the reasonableness of costs rules within the scheme. 

Ø  Quotes should be ‘like-for-like’, particularly where items are specific e.g. laptop / IT / machinery etc. Quotations for the same make and model of products are acceptable and should be obtained where possible.  Both quotations must meet the specification provided and demonstrate ‘like for like’ comparison in order to verify value for money. 

Ø  Ensure that all costs are quoted and accounted for, e.g. delivery and installation costs should be part of the quote.

Ø  Email quotes are acceptable and the covering email from suppliers must be provided.

Ø  Quotes must be dated prior to close of call and within three months of the date the application is submitted and must contain the supplier’s name and contact details.

Ø  Internet quotes must be sent with your application if this is the procurement method used for items under £5,000.  These can be printed and scanned in or saved as screen prints. The supplier, web address and cost should be clearly visible from print outs provided.  Do not simply list website addresses/ provide links to websites as we will not check these.  Please clarify if the costs provided are inclusive or exclusive of VAT.

Ø  If VAT is applicable to the items quoted, this should be clearly noted on the quotations to establish total project costs.

Ø  The lowest quotation should be selected with corresponding costs detailed on the application form.  Successful applicants will be paid funding on 50% of the procurement submitted, or of the final price of the item – whichever is the lowest amount. Any price increases between procurement and point of purchase must be borne by the applicant.

Ø  Quotes in other currencies should be compared using the rate of exchange and date of quote through www.x-rates.com. 

Ø  The cost of procurement for a capital item or an e-commerce website must be calculated as the total cost of the item.   Procurement must be undertaken for complete items and not be split into individual components or phases of work.  For example: A single procurement exercise should be undertaken for the build of a specialist computer to a particular specification.  Procurement of individual components e.g. motherboard is not permitted.

Ø  All Quotations must be submitted at the time of application.   These must be uploaded and clearly labelled.  Links to electronic file storage services such as iCloud or dropbox are not acceptable.

Ø  The copies of the quotations must be of readable condition. 


Please note: Council officers, DAERA officers and Programme auditors may contact suppliers of quotations and / or invoices to verify that the quotation / invoice has been provided to the applicant as part of audit checks at application and grant claim stage. Any quotation / invoice that cannot be verified by the supplier, will be passed to DAERA Fraud Department for further investigation.



Summary of procurement documents you need to upload with your online application before submitting

A specification for each item you’re applying for


2 quotes for each item you’re applying for (so your cheapest quote plus one other for comparison)


For each item - if you emailed your specification to suppliers, upload the cover email(s) you sent the spec out in.


For each item - if you received quotes back from suppliers by email, upload the cover email(s) received from each supplier.




Application Submission


Your application and supporting documents must be submitted via the online application system and uploaded by 12noon on Tuesday 31st May 2022.  The online system closes at this date and time and therefore no late applications will be accepted.  It is recommended that you register, complete and submit your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. 


If you require any additional help, please contact your local Council listed at Appendix 1. 


The application form link will be available online and through your local Council on 4th May 2022.


Late applications cannot be accepted. 



Reading the Guidance Notes in full


This Section of the Guidance notes should be read in conjunction with Section 2 on how to answer the questions, and Section 3 on how we assess and score your application, as well as the Appendices

A PDF copy of the full guidance notes can also be downloaded HERE

RBDS Guidance Notes