RBDS: 3.0 How we assess and score your application

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Section 3 - How we assess and score your application


Contents of this section

3.1 Eligibility Assessment

3.2 What if an application is not eligible?

3.3 Assessment and Scoring

3.4 How decisions are made

3.5 What happens if an application is successful?

3.6 What happens if an application is unsuccessful?

3.7 Grant Application Assessment Schedule

3.8  Application Process



3.0 Overview


Every application received will be assessed to ensure the following:


·         To ensure that the business/ social economy enterprise is eligible to apply to this particular Scheme.

·         To ensure each applicant’s capability to deliver the proposal, and

·         To determine how well the proposal meets the business’s needs and supports the business recovery, sustainability and growth.


An acknowledgement receipt will be issued to you automatically once your submission has been received. The Council will assess your application for eligibility. If your application is eligible to apply for grant aid, it will be forwarded for full assessment and scored against the stated criteria.


3.1 Eligibility Assessment


If the applicant, based on the information supplied, is able to satisfy the Council of their eligibility, they will progress to the next part of the process.



3.2 What if an application is not eligible?


If your application is not eligible, you will be notified immediately and the reasons will be outlined to you. Your application will not proceed to assessment and scoring.


If an applicant is not eligible for funding through the Programme, they may wish to contact the Council, who will help signpost to other sources of support.



3.3 Assessment and Scoring


If the applicant, based on the information supplied, is able to satisfy the eligibility criteria, they will be scored according to established assessment criteria shown in the table below.





5 Excellent

Response is completely relevant and excellent overall. The response is comprehensive, unambiguous and demonstrates a thorough understanding of the requirement and provides details of how the requirement will be met in full.

4  Good

Response is relevant and good. The response is sufficiently detailed to demonstrate a good understanding and provides details on how the requirements will be fulfilled. Good supporting evidence supplied.

3  Acceptable

Response is relevant. The response addresses a broad understanding of the requirement but may lack details on how the requirement will be fulfilled in certain areas.

2  Poor

Response is partially relevant but generally poor.  The response addresses some elements of the requirement but contains insufficient/limited detail or explanation to demonstrate how the requirement will be fulfilled. A response with reservations.

1  Very Poor

Response is partially relevant but generally very poor.  The response addresses some elements of the requirement but contains insufficient/limited detail or explanation to demonstrate how the requirement will be fulfilled. An unacceptable response with serious reservations.

0  Unacceptable

Nil or inadequate response. Fails to address the question or demonstrate an ability to meet the requirement.



The application will be assessed against 5 criteria, with each criterion attracting a score between 0-5.  Each question is weighted, and the score obtained will be multiplied by the weight to get an overall score out of a possible 100.  The criteria and weighting are:



(a)  Sscore out of a possible 5

(b)  Wweighting

Overall Score

(a x b)

Project Need: Clear and concise evidence of the need for the project within the scope of the fund


X 6


Covid-19 Recovery: Clear assessment of impact of pandemic on business and project identified supports business recovery





Economic Impact: Clear and realistic outcomes set for the project e.g. sustaining existing employment, income generation, new markets entered, new products or services introduced




Project Experience / Management Strength: Ability, skills and experience of the business which enables them to deliver the project


X 4


Innovation: Project demonstrates innovation in the marketplace or in business practices


X 2







Previous Funding: Has the applicant received TRPSI funding in the 2019 or 2020 Rural Business Development Grant Schemes?


If yes, score is 0 points


If no, score is 10 points


Note: if funding was received in the 2021 Rural Business Development Grant Scheme, the project is ineligible.






 Applications must score at least 65 marks to be considered for funding.

Applicants will be ranked according to score obtained and available funding allocated to highest ranking applications. Applicants who fail to achieve a score of at least 65 marks will be advised that they have been unsuccessful.  Applicants who score above 65 marks, but who do not score high enough to be awarded funding due to lack of available funding will be notified of this.


3.4 How decisions are made


When the scores are finalised, the applications may be presented to your local Council.


Successful/unsuccessful applicants will be notified at this stage.



3.5 What happens if an application is successful?


If an application is successful, Council will issue an electronic Letter of Offer which is a legal agreement with the business to deliver on the proposals outlined in their application form.



If successful, businesses must attend a Letter of Offer workshop which will explain the processes and procedures that relate to Programme monitoring, submitting a financial claim, requesting changes, promoting DAERA’s support for the Programme, monitoring and evaluation requirements and the process of verification.  This workshop may be delivered remotely (e.g. via Zoom or another online meeting platform).


Signed Letters of Offer must be accepted electronically within 14 working days of attending the Letter of Offer workshop.  You cannot accept your Letter of Offer until you attend the workshop.


This grant funding scheme is retrospective and therefore costs will only be reimbursed once items are purchased, paid in full and a grant claim submitted and processed.  Applicants will have to provide invoices and show evidence of payment of invoices through their bank account as part of the claim process.  Items should be paid through the bank account which is registered to receive grant funding.  Invoices in another currency should be claimed in sterling and backed up by the rate of exchange, date of exchange and name of bank used to provide the rate of exchange.


Hire purchase arrangements and cash payments cannot be accepted. Online payments made by credit card, must have the full project item cost (not only the grant element) cleared in full through the nominated bank account by the project end date of no later than 31 October 2022. A copy of the credit card statement and bank statement showing the full amount clearing must be provided. The next credit card statement showing the amount cleared may also be requested.


The grant claim form must be completed online and supporting documents, including invoices, bank statements and photographs of the items purchased uploaded by 11 November 2022.  


Projects must be complete, good onsite and operational, paid in full and cleared the bank account by 31 October 2022 and claim submitted by 11 November 2022 or the project will be deemed ineligible and no grant payment will be made.



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 and payment received by the supplier, as part of the 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.


Businesses are required to provide information on the impact of their project on project completion.You are required to submit photographic evidence with your claim and officers from your local Council, DAERA or audit officials may arrange post project visits to verify spend and discuss the monitoring information with the businesses that were funded.


3.6 What happens if an application is unsuccessful?


If an application is not successful, officers from the Council will discuss the application with you and may provide practical developmental support to address areas of concern.


An Appeals Process/Review Procedure is also available if an application is unsuccessful. The purpose of this is to ensure that the decisions taken and procedures followed for individual applications are applied fairly and consistently.


The Review will provide an independent process through which an applicant will have the opportunity to submit information to the Review Panel indicating that either:

  • the outcome was unreasonable or;
  • the proper procedures were not followed.


Appeals on any other grounds will not be considered.



3.7 Grant Application Assessment Schedule


The Programme will be open for applications as follows:


Opening date: Wednesday 4 May 2022


Closing date:   Tuesday 31 May 2022 at 12 noon


Late applications cannot be accepted under any circumstances.The application form must be fully completed online and all required supporting documentation uploaded or the application will not be considered.


You are encouraged to submit your application well in advance of the closing date / time to avoid technical difficulties which could result in deeming your application ineligible.



The Programme will follow this eight step administrative process:


Step 1

Open call for applications is made

Step 2

Potential applicants attends mandatory pre-application workshop

Step 3

Applications are submitted online and supporting documentation uploaded

Step 4

Applications are assessed

Step 5

Letters of Offer are issued and applicant attends Letter of Offer workshop

Step 6

Letters of Offer are returned within 14 days from date of the Workshop

Step 7

Projects are completed and paid in full by applicant

Step 8

Grant claim is submitted online and supporting documentation uploaded for Council checking.

Step 9

Grant payment is made directly to applicant




3.8 Application Process


All applications for financial assistance should be submitted online and supporting documentation uploaded.If you require any help, please contact your relevant Council detailed at Appendix 1.



Reading the Guidance Notes in full

This Section of the Guidance notes should be read in conjunction with Section 1 Introduction  and Section 2 on how to answer the qeustions, as well as the Appendices

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

RBDS Guidance Notes in full