First impressions do count.
Looking at the range of activities that the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) supports, I get a sense that ERDF can be seen by people in two distinct ways. For some people it is seen as a source of finance; but for others it is seen as part of a defined project. The choice made between these two approaches will largely decide the success of the venture, in my view.
The problem with seeing ERDF just as a source of finance is that the wider objectives of the fund, and the attached obligations, can become ignored. A source of finance just asks for receipts or accounts, and maybe also for repayments or dividends. The contract is purely financial.
But ERDF is more than just finance – it is a tool for economic development and therefore it comes with a wider set of conditions. To be fair, these wider obligations are sometimes hard to get a clear sense of when reading the dozen or more pages of standardised legal clauses. The National Handbook is sometimes overlooked as a source of help here.
So for me, the first impression of whether there is a sense of a project will often come from seeing how the files are organised.
Open the cupboard doors and what do you see? If there are shelves of files, numbered and labelled, from publicity to procurement, from consultations to claims, then we know we are cooking on gas.
However, if there are only boxes of receipts, maybe connected to each claim by an old rubber band, then it is time to order the strong coffee and prepare for disappointments.
Hopefully the projects you will work with are in the former category. If not, this checklist is from my ERDF Guidebook, just in case it helps.
- Funding Agreement as signed
- Changes to the Project, as signed
- Planned and Actual Progress
- Organisational Status and Project Structure
- Contingency Plans
- Risk Management
- Insurances, Equality Policies, Health & Safety
- Agreements with Delivery Partners, as signed
- Procurement of Contractors, as signed
- Governance Roles, Records of Meetings
- Data Protection and Privacy
- Financial Procedures as followed
- Accounting Software, Cost Centres
- Retrieval of Original Invoices, Receipts
- Accounting Records, Budget Approval
- Scheme of Delegation
- Value Added Tax
- Claims Compilations – Claim 1 onwards
- Apportionment – Methods and Data Sheets
- Matching Funding Details
- Capital Costs, Valuations, Depreciation
- Salaries, Staffing Structure, Job Descriptions
- Prior Agreement on Overheads Method, as signed
- Details of System, as used
- Copies of Letters, Notices, Agreements
- Details of All Procurement Exercises
- Any Single Tender Action Contracts Awards
- Any Preferred Supplier Contracts Awarded
- All Formal Tenders
- Any Contract Extensions
- Publicity Examples by the Project
- Publicity Examples by Third Parties
- Defrayal by the Grant Recipient
- Defrayal by Named Delivery Partners
- Document Retention Arrangements
- Project Assets and Useful Economic Life
- Project Final Audit, if applicable
- Records for Cross-Cutting Themes
- Records for Outputs and Results.
At the time of writing I was on contract to DCLG on ERDF Compliance, and nothing in this blog or post represents official policy, just my personal views.
This blog and post are in the interests of general and professional discussion and nothing constitutes particular advice for any project or person.