asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 16 October (WA 70), whether the rejection of projects by the East Midlands Development Agency because they are not of suitable standard or merit is affected by the way the agency works with potential applicants. [HL6152]
The application process applied to the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) by the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) was developed in conjunction with industry representatives. A substantial amount of information is available on the website at www.emda.org.uk/rdpe which includes a detailed prospectus for funding in the East Midlands and which provides much detail on the funding available in the region. This prospectus provides background information about the programme, details of what can and cannot be funded, possible grant rates and information about the application process.
EMDA's RDPE application process is in two stages. First, applicants submit an expression of interest giving a brief description of the project. In all cases the applicant is provided with detailed feedback and advice on their expression of interest and is invited to contact a named member of the RDPE team at EMDA for further information or clarification if required.
Secondly, when an applicant is invited to proceed to full application they are given a step-by-step guide detailing the information required in each section of the form. When a full application is received by EMDA, it is acknowledged and thoroughly appraised. Applicants are contacted during the appraisal process if additional information or clarification is required.
If an application is rejected the applicant is given specific reasons as to why the project has been rejected. The letter contains both constructive advice and guidance if necessary. If the project has been rejected due to the quality of the application the letter outlines what improvements are required and informs the applicant that they are entitled to reapply if they wish. The applicant is given clear guidance about the areas requiring improvement.
EMDA works closely with other RDPE delivery bodies and regional stakeholders, including the National Farmers' Union, the Country Land and Business Association and representatives of agricultural consultants, as part of its delivery of the RDPE.
In light of all these arrangements there should be no reason to conclude that the way in which EMDA works with potential or actual applicants and their representatives is having an adverse impact on how the programme is being delivered.