Eligibility & De Minimis

Eligibility & De Minimis for the Enterprising Worcestershire Post Start/Early Stage Business Support

Key Criteria:

  • The enterprise must be located in Worcestershire.
  • The enterprise must be trading for less than 36 months at the time of first registration on the support programme.
  • The enterprise must be trading as a minimum 70% business to business.
  • The enterprise must be a Small to Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) as per the definition below.

The definition of SME's eligible for the programme will be a business or company that:

  • Has fewer than 250 employees.
  • Has either (a) an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million or (b) an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.
  • 25% or more of the capital or the voting rights are not owned by one enterprise, or jointly by several enterprises falling outside this definition of an SME.
  • Does not own more than 25% of the capital or voting rights in an enterprise falling outside of this definition of an SME.
  • Exceptions: An enterprise in which more than 25% of the capital or voting rights are owned by a Venture Capitalist, Business Angel, Institutional Investor or Autonomous Local Authority may still be considered an SME.

Ineligible Business Sectors

Businesses not eligible under ERDF Guidelines are:

Provision of local social welfare facilities e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, fire stations, sports facilities, parks, public libraries.

Child-minding facilities including day nurseries (unless directly related to the objectives of the Operational Programme - OP).

Retail facilities. Retail is defined as the provision of goods or services to the general public. Provision of goods or services to businesses is not considered retail.

Primary production, processing and marketing of agricultural products, which is supported through EAFRD.

Synthetic fibres sector (excluded by the General Block Exemption EC 800/2008). Further explanation of the meaning of synthetic fibres sector can be found on the European Commission website at: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/legislation/archive_docs/96c94_en.html
Code on Aid to the Synthetic Fibres Industry (1996, subsequently extended.)

Establishments providing generalised (school age) education should not be supported as this is a statutory duty on local authorities.

Banking and insurance companies should not be supported, as their activities are non-productive and support to one institution is likely to lead to displacement of jobs, except as a deliverer of services or match funding, for example as members of a VCLF consortium. This would include insurance brokers who act as intermediaries and ‘sell’ insurance policies to businesses or individuals.

De Minimis State Aid Regulation

You are being offered assistance under De Minimis State aid regulation.

Under World Trade Organisation agreements and European regulations, any assistance from the public sector towards trading operations must be strictly controlled and fall within agreed limits. De Minimis aid is assistance from a public source for a trading activity which is below the threshold of aid requiring prior notification and approval from the commission.

These levels have been revised since the 1st January 2007. This now allows a company to receive up to €200,000 of De Minimis aid over a three-year period for most sectors. However, the Transport sector is still restricted to €100,000. Fisheries have a limit of €30,000 and Agriculture (other than marketing of processed products) is limited to €7,000.

Both of these last two sectors are subject to special procedures and require the permission of Defra. Please note that the limits are in Euros, therefore when measuring the level of aid given, the official Commission Euro / £ exchange rate at the time that the assistance is granted must be used to determine the amount of aid given.

To confirm that you are able to receive this assistance you must declare the full amount of aid, from any public source, and in any format, you have already received over the last 3 years. You must declare whether or not it was De Minimis aid. All aid received, whether De Minimis aid or exempted aid must now be declared. Please note that this is a change from the requirements of previous regulations. Please be explicit in your explanation of what the aid you received has been used for.

The following is not a comprehensive list of the possible forms of aid. However it should give an indication of the most common forms of aid, which you may have been given over the last three years. Potentially any assistance from a public body might be an aid. Should you have any doubts on this matter, please contact the body from which the assistance was received.

  • Grants from public bodies.
  • Loans from public bodies at favourable rates.
  • Loan guarantees from public bodies.
  • Differential tax benefits.
  • Grants from an investment trust (including charities) which may themselves have received the funds from a public body.
  • Investment from a part publicly funded venture capital fund.
  • Publicly administered funds, even if the funds were originally not public such as the national lottery.
  • Landfill tax
  • Waiving or deferral of fees or interest normally due to a public body such as the waiving or deferral of rent or waiver of interest normally due on late payment of taxation or other costs to a public body.
  • Monopoly licences or guarantees of market share.
  • Advertising via a public channel such as a tourist board or state owned television.
  • Consultancy advice provided either free or at a reduced rate.
  • Training provided either free or at a reduced rate.
  • Aid for investment in environmental projects.
  • Provision of a free or reduced rate feasibility study for research and development or other assistance with research and development.
  • Purchase of public land or property at a less than market rate.
  • Benefiting from the provision of infrastructure where your organisation was pre-identified as a beneficiary.

Any De Minimis aid awarded to you under this project will have to be declared if you apply, or have applied, for any other public funding. Therefore, if successful, the offer letter must be retained and shown to any other public body to which you apply for funding for the three years following the offer.

The use of public funding is subject to checks and audits. False declarations will lead to the recovering of the value of the assistance offered plus interest.