The third round for Expressions of Interest under the RCBF is now open from 22 March to 24 May 2013.
The £20m Fund is delivered as part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The RCBF is jointly funded by Defra and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and provides grants to communities to establish superfast broadband in hard-to-reach areas.
The third Expression of Interest round is open between 22 March and 24 May 2013. Full details of how to apply to the third round can be found in the accompanying Applicant's handbook (see below). It is recommended you read the Applicant's handbook carefully as it contains important detailed information which will guide you through the application process before completing the Expression of Interest Form (see below).
Expressions of interest may only be submitted during an open round.
To apply to the third round, you will need to complete an Expression of Interest Form by 17:00 on 24 May 2013. Should your Expression of Interest be approved, you will be invited to submit a detailed Full application, providing specifics of your proposed solution, and how it will be established and managed.
It is important to identify local demand for a service as this is critical in supporting the case for investment. Applicants are therefore required to collate data to support their Expression of Interest through the completion of a Community Data Book (a simple Excel spreadsheet). This data should include technical details such as what telecoms connections each household currently has, where the slow spots are, where fibre solutions will not reach etc. It will help you to understand the need for your project and to understand the picture on the ground. The BDUK Rural Community Broadband Toolkit (see under ‘Where can I go for additional information' below) contains a template of the Community Data Book.
The selection process for the Fund is competitive and applications will be scored against agreed selection criteria. This means that there is no guarantee of success and not all projects which are eligible will be awarded grant. Applicants do also need to be aware that the process is necessarily rigorous and that there are risks and tight timescales involved, particularly with this third and final round under the current programme.
You can apply if your community is in a rural location identified as being in the 10% hard to reach area which will get only standard broadband under the main Rural Broadband Programme being rolled out by your Local Authority. You will be asked to provide clear evidence supporting how you have established your project will be in a 10% area.
Acting on behalf of a community, eligible applicants can be:
This is a rural community scheme. However, Local Authorities (including Parish and District Councils) may also apply on behalf of communities, or act as the managing authority for an application. Where this is the case, there must be a clear demonstration of community engagement and community support for the project.
It is recommended that communities who are interested in applying to the Fund should work closely with their Local Authorities in order to understand whether they fall within a 10% hard to reach area. In submitting an Expression of Interest, you will need to demonstrate that the project fits with the wider Local Authority investment in the area.
You must not commit to works which is specifically related to any Expression Of Interest under the Fund. Grant is paid in arrears so you will need to demonstrate that you have the ability to bankroll the project until such point as the grant is paid to you.
There is no upper or lower limit to the size of project or grant investment. However, it is likely that below a certain threshold projects will not be economically viable, and projects will be subject to a value for money assessment.
The RCBF will provide up to 50% of total 'eligible' costs to communities located in hard-to-reach locations who can demonstrate a local need and a demand for superfast broadband, and the ability to make it happen at a reasonable cost. The remaining costs must be met through private sources. However, where a clear need can be demonstrated through the application process, we will consider requests in applications for a higher level of intervention above 50% grant.
Eligible costs would include:
Your wider project can include other activity such as demand stimulation and other revenue funded activity, but you will not be able to claim RCBF grant aid for this. You can decide how you want to develop your project taking account of local needs but projects must integrate with the broadband rollout plans in the county to avoid any duplication of funding and to maximise the Government's investment by linking where possible into infrastructure being rolled out under BDUK's national programme.
BDUK's Rural Community Broadband Toolkit "Community Toolkit" contains some material to support the development of local projects, including the Community Data Book. The Community Toolkit also contains a number of possible business models which communities may wish to consider in developing their plans. Each model of involvement will require a gradual increase in community commitment to match the difficulty and expense of serving customers in remote areas. The Community Toolkit will provide more information on each approach.
You are advised to discuss potential projects with your local authority. Your local Rural Community Action Network representative (RCAN) may also be able to discuss potential projects with you. Your local RCAN contact details can be found on the ACRE website http://www.acre.org.uk/about-rcan or via Tel: 01285 653477.
We have drawn up a Frequently Asked Questions Document and it is hoped that this material will answer many of your questions in the first instance.
Approved projects when contracted can be found here.
If you have more questions please contact your Local RDPE Delivery Team.
The projects directory holds records of all types of projects related to all regions. Submit your project to the directory and find other similar projects in your area.
Join in the community forums and discuss any aspects of Rural Development in England with fellow members. Start your own topic or search others.