About State Aid

The legal bit... the following information explains the way HIE provides grant and state aid funding. 

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Terms and conditions applicable to the HIE grant scheme

Definitions and interpretation.
The following definitions will apply unless the context requires otherwise:

(a) 'Applicant' includes, where the applicant is an individual or individuals, executors and successors of the applicant and where the applicant are partners in a firm their successors as partners of and trustees for the firm. If the applicant is more than one person (including the partners of a partnership) then each of those people shall be jointly and severally liable for complying with these terms and conditions;

(b) 'Application' means the completed application form signed by the applicant;

(c) 'Business' means the applicant's business or activity which is being developed by the project and described in the application;

(d) 'Effective date' means the date of the letter in which the grantor notifies the applicant that the application has been approved;

(e) 'Expected project completion date' means the expected date for completion of the project specified in the application;

(f) 'Grant' means the grant or grants as approved by the grantor in connection with the project;

(g) 'HIE' means Highlands and Islands Enterprise established under the Enterprise and New Towns (Scotland) Act 1990 and having its chief office at Cowan House, Inverness Retail and Business Park, Inverness;

(h) 'HIE network' means HIE and all of its subsidiaries (as defined in the Companies Act 1985 Section 736) from time to time and their respective successors;

(i) 'The grantor' means body to whom the application is made;

(j) 'Month' means a calendar month;

(k) 'Period of obligation' means the period commencing on the effective date and terminating five years from the date of last payment of the grant for large firms and three years from the date of last payment of the grant for small or medium-sized enterprises;

(l) 'Project' means the project as detailed in the application;

(m) 'Project funding' means the project funding as detailed in the application;

(n) the date on which the grant or any instalment of it is paid shall be the date on which the grantor issues payment as certified by any duly authorised officer of the grantor.

The applicant warrants:

a) that the Applicant is validly existing, has power to execute and perform its obligations under this Application, its execution and such performance has been validly authorised, and on its execution and delivery those obligations will be valid, legal and binding on it; and

b) that it is the owner of the Project Location as detailed in the Application and all plant, equipment and other assets required in connection with the Project or has permission of the owner of the Project Location and all such assets to undertake the Project and the Business.

The applicant undertakes:

to implement the Project for which the Grant is provided by the Expected Project Completion Date and to fulfil and observe all of the following terms and conditions for the Period of Obligation:-

1. Conduct of business, accounts etc.

The Applicant shall:

(1) carry on the Business and implement the Project in a proper and efficient manner and keep proper financial and other records and books of account all to the reasonable satisfaction of the Grantor which shall at all reasonable times be open for inspection by the Grantor;

(2) provide the Grantor with such information and within such period as the Grantor may require relating to the Project and the Business;

(3) not without the prior written consent of the Grantor discontinue or dispose of (on winding up or otherwise) the whole or a substantial part of the Business or the Project or its assets or make any alteration that is in the reasonable opinion of the Grantor a material alteration to the constitution of the Applicant, its membership or the character of the Business or the Project;

(4) not without prior written consent of the Grantor sell or dispose of their property or buildings or sell or dispose of or remove any of the plant, equipment or other assets used in connection with the Business or the Project and which have been acquired or improved with the benefit of the Grant;

(5) keep all the property, buildings, plant, equipment and other assets of the Business and the Project in a good state of repair and in good condition all to the reasonable satisfaction of the Grantor and permit the Grantor to inspect them on reasonable notice;

(6) insure and keep insured against loss or damage by fire, storm, impact, theft and such other risks as may reasonably be required by the Grantor all property, buildings, plant, equipment, stock, vehicles and other assets of the Business for such sums as may be necessary to cover the full replacement or reinstatement thereof or for such sum as the Grantor may reasonably approve, exhibit the relevant policies and receipts for premiums to the Grantor and if required by it ensure that the interest of the Grantor be endorsed on such policies, and apply any proceeds of such insurance towards replacement or reinstatement;

(7) not move the Business or the Project or any of its plant, equipment or other assets acquired in connection with the Project out of the Highlands and Islands area of operation of the Grantor;

(8) only use the Grant in implementation of the Project and not for expenditure incurred prior to the Initial Application Date as defined in the Application;

(9) comply with all applicable statutory and other regulations and obtain, and provide to the Grantor on request, all necessary consents and licences, for the Project and the Business; and

(10) indemnify the Grantor against any claims whatsoever arising in relation to the Project or the Business.

2. Repayment of the grant

If any of the following events occur any unclaimed part of the Grant shall immediately be withdrawn by the Grantor and the Applicant shall immediately become liable to repay to the Grantor any part of the Grant which has already been paid out to the Applicant:

(1) if the Applicant ceases to carry on the Business, becomes unable to pay its debts, or the insolvency or sequestration of the Applicant or divesting themselves of their property by trust deed in favour of their creditors, or entering into a composition or arrangement with its creditors or if an order is made, or a petition presented or a resolution passed for the dissolution or winding up of the Applicant, or a liquidator, provisional liquidator, receiver, administrative receiver or administrator is appointed to the Applicant or any of its assets;

(2) breach by the Applicant of any of these terms and conditions or any other conditions, obligations or undertaking granted or to be granted by the Applicant in favour of any member of the HIE Network or any lease or other agreement between the Applicant and any member of the HIE Network;

(3) if there is a material alteration to the constitution of the Applicant, its membership, trustees or partners, or if the Applicant is a company, by the transfer of ownership of the controlling interest in the Applicant without the prior written consent of the Grantor, or on the occurrence of any event or change in circumstances in relation to the Applicant or the Project which in the reasonable opinion of the Grantor, would have a material adverse effect on the ability of the Applicant to comply with these conditions;

(4) if, in the reasonable opinion of the Grantor, any document or other information submitted in connection with the Applicant's Application for Grant is fraudulent, false or materially misleading or if the Applicant has withheld information which in the reasonable opinion of the Grantor would have had a material bearing on the Grantor's decision to approve the Grant, or the Applicant or any of its officers, partners, office holders or trustees has acted fraudulently or negligently;

(5) if the Applicant receives or becomes entitled to other funding (whether from public or private sources) in excess of the amounts specified in the Application and the Applicant undertakes to provide details of any such additional funding to the Grantor immediately upon such receipt or entitlement.

3. Claims and payment of grant

Any claim for payment of the Grant must be made in writing on a properly completed claim form, (which may be obtained from the Grantor) to the Grantor not later than six months after the Expected Project Completion Date. Any claim must be accompanied by evidence of expenditure and such other evidence as the Grantor may require. If any such claim or evidence is not satisfactory to the Grantor, payment of Grant may be refused or reduced at the Grantor's discretion. The Grantor may withdraw any balance of the Grant not released within the time limit for submission of claims unless the Grantor agrees to extend the time limit by notice in writing. The Grantor reserves the right to withhold payment of the Grant until all Project Funding is in place. Grant shall be payable up to the amount approved by the Grantor as a percentage of the eligible costs of the Project as approved by the Grantor.

4. Publicity / acknowledgement

The Grantor reserves the right to publicise the assistance to the Applicant and to include it in a public record of cases, both to demonstrate how its resources are used and to give examples of the types of development it is able to assist. The Applicant shall ensure that any publicity given to the Project contains an acknowledgement of the Grantor's funding support and shall display in a prominent place, any plaque, sticker or logo as the Grantor may require.

5. Assignation

The Grant shall be personal to the Applicant and the Applicant may not assign or transfer the Grant or any of its obligations, under these Conditions, nor subcontract any of such obligations, to any third party without the prior written consent of the Grantor (as the case may be). The Grantor may assign its rights under these Conditions to any other member of the HIE Network or to any third party without consent of the Applicant.

6. Law of Scotland

The Application incorporating the Applicant's undertaking to the Grantor and these terms and conditions shall be governed by the laws of Scotland.
Data protection / privacy statement

I / We the signatory / ies of the Application agree / s that:

(1) the personal data which has been provided by me/us in connection with the Application will be held and used by the Grantor as data controller and in the normal course of its business;

(2) the Grantor may share the personal data within the HIE network, Audit Scotland, the Grantor's external auditors, government departments and agencies;

(3) the Grantor may also share the personal data with or obtain other information about me/us from other organisations in order to check the accuracy of the information which has been provided, to detect or prevent crime or to protect the funds which the Grantor administers; and

(4) the Grantor may continue to hold some personal data about me/us after the Applicant's relationship with the Grantor has ended for legal, regulatory and audit purposes.

I / We have the right to ask for a copy of any personal information which the Grantor holds about me / us and which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998 (for which the Grantor may make a small charge) and to request that the Grantor correct any inaccuracies in such information.

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Terms and conditions applicable to HIE's financial support to businesses

We have extensive state aid powers and are legally obliged to publish our state aid schemes. Public assistance represents state aid if it provides an economic advantage to commercial undertakings and that advantage might affect international trade and competition.

State aid is the European Commission (EC) term for public support awarded to any type of organisation operating commercially where the aid is discretionary and has potential to distort competition and affect trade between Member States of the European Union. Support in many forms can involve state aid including financial grants, soft loans, free or subsidised services and aid to social enterprises delivering commercial activities.

The state aid rules are complex. They are set by the EC and comprise various articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as well as Regulations, Frameworks and Guidelines. These lay out the scope, limits and rules under which aid can be given without seeking prior approval from the EC. This is called “exemption”. The EC governs Member State compliance with the Regulations and any aid measures outwith the rules must be notified to the EC for approval. Post Brexit, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will assume this governing role.

As a public body with a broad economic development remit, HIE regularly grants state aid through our registered state aid schemes i.e. the General Block Exemption (GBER), Fisheries & Aquaculture Block Exemption (FBER) and Agricultural Block Exemption (ABER). We also use De Minimis aid to support activities that cannot be assisted through the Block Exemption Regulations. The De Minimis rules set different maximums over a three-year period depending on the sector the project operates within. Altogether, we have large toolkit of support allowing us to offer State aid to businesses and other organisations.

We always assess each project, firstly for its potential to meet our economic development priorities and policies for the Highlands and Islands. If HIE assistance is considered appropriate, we will then determine if the support constitutes state aid. If it does, HIE staff will work with clients to find the most appropriate legal cover to avoid breaching the competition laws. It is important that applicants provide full and accurate declarations in support of State aid assessments. Any competitor can challenge a granting of state aid in a UK court, and if any breach of the Regulations is found the court is obliged to order the client to make full repayment of the State aid immediately. This is why it is vital that HIE gets accurate declarations from applicants and why we publish our detailed scheme rules.

Further information about how state aid is applied in Scotland can be found on the Scottish Government website.

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