Skills & Opportunities Fund Application Guidance

General Hints

Complete the eligibility check as soon as you can. This not only saves time later but also ensures your intent to apply is logged by the system.

Access the application form early and upload your governing document, accounts and company logo as soon as you can (or just your company logo if you’re applying on behalf of a School or College). Document uploads are the most technical part of the application and so therefore the area that is most likely to cause a problem. You can upload your project budget once it is ready, prior to final submission of the application. We cannot accept applications submitted without all documentation.

The site saves your progress so feel free to dip in and out of your application but make sure that when you want to submit your application for the final time, you hit submit and not save.

If you are unsure of anything, contact the PNE Skills & Opportunities Fund team before submitting. Once you have submitted your application it will either be marked as eligible or ineligible and that decision is final. We cannot go back and correct anything on your behalf. If you’re unsure, contact a member of the team before submitting your application and we’ll help you out.

Remember, we have no prior knowledge of your activities or organisation. Please be specific and explicit in your answers and ensure you give us all of the information we ask for. The more detailed your answers, the higher your score will be overall.

Please be warned that the closing deadline is strictly adhered too. The application system automatically closes at the given deadline time and no further action or submissions will be possible. To protect the integrity of the application process, it is not possible for anyone, including staff, to make changes so to avoid disappointment make sure you submit your application as soon as you can!

If you are unsure of anything email sofapply@pne.org or call the team on 0191 6914901.

The Application Questions

1. How much funding are you applying for?
This is where you enter the total amount of funding you are applying for and this must match the amount highlighted on your project budget. The maximum amount you can apply for is £35,000, unless you are applying from The Republic of Ireland, in which case it is €35,000. Please ensure the amount is less than 20% of your turnover. You will be required to enter the turnover shown in your most recent accounts and the system will calculate if you are eligible to apply.

2. Please tell us about your organisation and its aims.
Please explain what your organisation does, its purpose and aims, the services you deliver and who your beneficiaries are.

3. Explain clearly what you plan to do with the funding if successful.
This is where you explain what you intend to do and with how many people. The most important single thing to include is the number of people you will reach, without a specific number we cannot accept your application.

In describing your project you must ensure that you make it clear how this project will help the beneficiaries e.g. will they receive training, achieve qualifications, improve their prospects of starting a business, etc.

Remember to ensure your project meets the fund purpose and the key themes of Enterprise and Financial Capability. It is vital you check regional priorities at the start of each round to ensure your project is relevant.

You will be required to state the number of project beneficiaries and also enter details of your expected outputs in terms of: number businesses started*, number of jobs created**, number of accredited qualifications achieved, number of people with increased financial capability and number of people with increased enterprise skills.

*businesses started by beneficiaries
**jobs created – from the new businesses started (including the business owner)

4. What difference will this funding make? (i.e. what will it enable you to do that you couldn't have done without the funding?)
What specifically, does the funding allow you to do that you currently cannot? Is there any other added value your organisation can deliver through this project?

An example of a good answer
“This funding will enable us to establish the first year of a comprehensive programme of Enterprise Guidance for disadvantaged young people. This launch year allows us to embed the service, collate feedback and develop programmes. It will give us the time and evidence-base to pursue funding for Year two, with the aim of establishing the project as a self-sustaining social enterprise run by young people in Year 3. Without funding, we would not be in a position to offer all the components needed to ensure success - an essential mix of workshops, mentoring, web resource and support services.”

Here the applicant has clearly explained what the funding will enable them to do that they would not otherwise have been able to. The activity is clearly linked to one of the two key themes, ‘Enterprise’ and shows evidence of a planned approach which is important throughout the application.

5. Please explain how the people or community this project will support are disadvantaged and tell us about the issues they face.
We will only support projects that are delivered in or to a disadvantaged community. This could be a geographical area that faces a particular aspect of disadvantage or to a community of interest e.g. women, BAME, etc. You must explain how the people or the community are disadvantaged, what are the issues that they face. Be clear in your explanation, how do you know this, where did you get your information from?

6. What evidence do you have that what you are proposing is needed by the community? Please include details of any consultation you have carried out.
You need to be able to demonstrate that the project you are proposing is needed by the community. Using national information is useful but the more local information that can be provided here the better. What is the situation in your area? How do you know? Who have you asked? Where have you got your information from? Do you keep records yourselves of particular kinds of requests that can be used to demonstrate need?

7. Please tell us about your recent experience in delivering this activity to the target group, the results of your evaluation and any lessons learned (or if you haven't done this before, a similar activity).
What experience of delivering this type of activity do you have? Please give details of previous delivery, tell us about your achievements and your evaluation of this work and about any lessons learned. In this answer it is important we find out about changes you have made in response to these. If you have not delivered this activity to the target group previously what research have you carried out that suggests this approach might work? If your project is a pilot then what has inspired the pilot?

8. Explain your project timeline
For project timelines, the more detailed the better. We get lots of applications that provide high level time lines split up into vague project phases. We also get more detailed ones, providing specifics around project activities and events. It’s the latter that score higher.

9. Explain to us why your organisation is best placed to deliver this project. (e.g. track record, expertise, capacity etc)
For this question we are interested in your organisation’s experience, both in this field and working with the target group. You must be able to demonstrate previous experience of providing similar activities and show that you have the necessary links to the target group to recruit the people you need to make the project a success. Do you have the staff in place to deliver the project, do they have the necessary expertise and skills? Organisations that are able to describe their previous impact will score highest here.

10. Please tell us what the specific outcomes of your project will be and how you will monitor and measure its impact.
There are several important components to a good answer here. First you must state how you will monitor the expected outputs and outcomes (stated in Q3). A good answer will also explain how those outputs are recorded and how the outcomes are measured. An excellent application will include some provision for evaluation and impact assessment following the project. In answering this question you will explain how we will be able to externally verify your project outcomes. How will you report your successes to us? The aspect of sharing project lessons is often overlooked.

11. How have you calculated your costs?
Explain how you have drafted your budget. Is it based on previous costs from a similar project? Have you based it on quotes from suppliers? If you have a high percentage (70%+) allocated for staff costs then you may want to provide assurances around the sustainability of the arrangement and its impact on your organisation and the project at the end of the funding. Applications that show sustainability will score higher.

12. Please detail any in-kind or match funding included in this project. Please indicate whether the match funding is secured or when you expect it to be secured. (If using volunteers for project delivery, please indicate in-kind funding using an estimated daily rate for staff delivering activities).
This is where you list any providers of match funding. Tell us how much the match funding is, where it is coming from and whether this has been secured. If it is not secured yet, when will this happen? Applications are scored on levels of match funding. Additionally please detail where any in-kind funding is listed. Remember to use the correct daily rates and explain how this has been worked out. Has the in-kind funding been confirmed? Applications are scored on levels of in-kind funding.

13. Will you be working in partnership with any other organisations to deliver your project? If so, please provide details of your partners and outline what they will bring to the project. You should include details of referral partners such as Jobcentre Plus, local college / school, or youth groups. .
This is where you list any delivery partners and outline their involvement. We are keen to see applications with partnerships that add value to projects and provide a synthesis of complementary skill sets.