Frequently Asked Questions

Find FAQs about the Phase 3 Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund below.

 

LCSF Funding

Q1. How much funding is available for Phase 3 LCSF?

There is up to £14 million of grant funding available for Phase 3 LCSF to deliver heat decarbonisation plans in 2022/23.

Q2. Can eligible public sector bodies apply for funding for buildings that are owned but leased out to a third party, including private sector? Can eligible public sector bodies apply for funding for buildings that are leased with the responsibility of maintenance and operation on the public sector?

Yes, eligible organisations must either own the building that the funding is being used to upgrade or, have a long-lease arrangement where the tenancy agreement placed the responsibility for operation and maintenance of the building services on the eligible body.
The length of the lease must ensure that any measures identified by the heat decarbonisation plan, and subsequently eligible under PSDS if applied for, must also cover the duration of completing and benefitting from the low carbon solutions throughout their lifetime.

Q3. If an eligible public sector body owns sheltered housing and social housing and is responsible for the maintenance and operation (heating and energy) of common areas, will this be eligible for funding as they are not covered by Social Housing Decarbonisation Scheme?

Sheltered or supported housing and social housing are ineligible for the LCSF.

Q4. Can I apply for funding for a study to understand the feasibility of connecting private dwellings to an existing heat network run by a public authority?

Private sector organisations and private individuals are not eligible for any funding through the scheme. The public sector organisation applying for funding must either own the building(s) that the heat decarbonisation plan would cover or, have a long-term lease arrangement where the tenancy agreement placed the responsibility for operation and maintenance of the building services on the eligible body. 

Q5. If we submit a bid for a number of buildings and some don’t qualify, will the whole application be rejected?

Not necessarily - in this instance Salix would discuss with you whether you reduce the scope of your bid, or whether you would like to withdraw from the process.

Q6. How do I know if I am classed as an economic actor and should answer ‘yes’ on the application portal, in respect to subsidy control?

The phrase “economic actor” relates to an entity or group of entities engaged in an economic activity by offering goods or services on the market. Please follow published government guidance on subsidy controls to determine whether your organisation falls within subsidy controls.

Q7. How much funding is available and what are the timescales for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme?

For the latest information on the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), please visit the PSDS section of the Salix Finance website
 

Q8. What technologies are eligible to be included in my heat decarbonisation plan?


The purpose of the heat decarbonisation plan should be to describe how an organisation intends to replace fossil fuel heating systems with low carbon alternatives. As set out in the heat decarbonisation plan guidance, organisations should take a “whole building approach” to heat decarbonisation and plans should include any measures necessary to enable cost-effective heat decarbonisation. 

Measures that do not enable the cost-effective decarbonisation of heat (eg feasibility of electric vehicle charge points) are not eligible for funding.

Q9. Can eligible public sector bodies make more than one bid to the fund?  
 
Yes - however, Salix is expecting many applications. Applicants are encouraged to make a single application that contains all relevant requests. This will enable the assessment of your application to be completed quickly.  

Q10. Is there a minimum/maximum amount that can be applied for?  
 
There is no minimum/maximum grant value that a public sector organisation can apply for. 

Q11. We wish to apply for funding for a number of schools. Can these all be in one application or is it best to group this into several smaller applications? 

We would recommend one larger, combined application as this will require only one submission through the application portal. It is imperative that your organisation has identified which schools are being applied for and their buildings’ data has been detailed in the supplementary building information tool uploaded in the application.

Q12. Can funding be used to cover VAT? 

VAT that is reclaimable from HMRC, by your organisation, is not eligible expenditure under the grant terms and conditions (clause 5.3.5). Therefore, only if your organisation is unable to reclaim VAT from HMRC, can this be included in your grant application. 

 

Making an application

Q1. Is there a word limit to any of the answers on the application portal?

No, there are no word limits for any of the questions on the portal. However, we encourage you to be as clear and concise in your answers as possible.
 

Q2. Can a consultant make an application on behalf of a public sector organisation?

No, the application must be authorised and managed by the appropriate Authorising Official of the eligible organisation and submitted by a contact at the eligible organisation, either the Authorising Official or the ‘main contact’. However, a consultant can support you with preparatory works to complete the application if this is required.

Q3. What will the role of the Authorising Official be and how is this different to the main contact?

The Authorising Official can also be the project lead, and therefore the main contact, for Salix from your organisation. The responsibility of the Authorising Official is specific. They have the authority within the organisation to receive and accept a grant award. The Authorising Official will also have complete oversight of the grant and accountability for the funds being spent in accordance with the terms and conditions of the grant. The Authorising Official will also be the signatory for authorising payment request submissions to Salix. We would also expect the authority to extend to ensuring proper procurement rules have been followed internally in awarding contracts to contractors. 

The Authorising Official will be responsible for authorising applications being submitted, by signing the declaration on the portal. They will also receive an email, which they will be required to reply to prior to Salix commencing assessment of their application.
The project lead will be the main point of contact for Salix for day-to-day delivery activities and updates.  

Q4. Can Dioceses apply on behalf of their voluntary aided schools estate?  

Yes, a Diocese can apply on behalf of some or all their schools.

Q5. Will an application be considered without the availability and input of Display Energy Certificates (DECs) in the supplementary building information tool? 

The supplementary building information tool has some mandatory columns; inputting DEC ratings is included within this. You can search for an energy certificate using the government portal found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/find-energy-certificate. 

If there is a reason why DEC ratings are unavailable, please write to the LCSF team at [email protected], or explain in the free text column of the building support tool the reason for DEC ratings are unavailable, the actions your organisation is taking and when the DECs will be updated and shared.

Q6. Can eligible bodies apply for multiple areas within the fund, such as detailed design for some buildings, and high-level strategic plans for buildings that have not been looked at before?  

Yes, the applicant can apply for funding for different outputs for different buildings. If the applicant is including several outputs in their application, explain this clearly in the ‘description of your proposal’ for LCSF funding.

Q7. How quickly are applications likely to be processed, i.e. when would applicants be told if they have been successful in securing funding? 

Assessments will commence soon after the submission of applications. We will aim to award all funding within 8 weeks from the opening of the application portal, recognising that some successful recipients may receive their award sooner whilst some could take longer. All decisions will be communicated by 31st August 2022.
  

Q8. In order to help me prepare my application, what kinds of information will I be asked to provide in the Phase 3 LCSF Application Portal? 

The guidance on application questions can be found in the Application Guidance. We encourage you to read the guidance thoroughly and the expectations on answering each question so you are prepared to apply when the portal opens. 

As part of the application you will also be required to attach your completed supplementary building information tool with details on each building included in your application. The supplementary building information tool will be available when the scheme is launched and therefore can be completed in advance of the application portal opening. 

Additionally, if you are applying for funding for the same buildings that have been covered by a previously completed or ongoing heat decarbonisation plan(s) to improve on the existing plan(s) then you will be required to attach your heat decarbonisation plan. Our reason for requiring this is to conduct additionality checks and ensure that the funding being requested is for works that is in addition to what your organisation already has in place or already has approved funding for through other funding sources. 

You will also be asked to provide details on the checks you have in place to mitigate fraud, and checks to prevent false representation and failure to disclose information. 

Q9. Can a Local Authority apply on behalf of an academy? 

Yes, they can. 

Q10. What is the supplementary building information tool and why is it required? 

The supplementary building information tool is an excel sheet that has been made available on the Salix website at the time of scheme launch. It is mandatory to complete this tool and attach it to your application. An incomplete supplementary building information tool or an application submitted without the tool will be rejected. Due to the nature of the grants being quickly oversubscribed, it may not be possible for you to resubmit your application with the completed and correctly attached supplementary building information tool. Therefore, we urge you to get this right the first time. 

The tool requires you to detail all the buildings that have been included in your application and will have an heat decarbonisation plan prepared. Each building is to be entered separately with all the requested information completed per building – UPRN, postcode, gross internal area (in m2), condition of building, existing heating system etc.

 

Heat decarbonisation plan

Q1. Are eligible public sector bodies required to produce separate HDPs for the number of buildings listed in the application or can these be grouped or presented in one HDP?

There is no criteria specifying how many HDPs an organisation must produce, and organisations can produce HDPs for individual or multiple buildings.  However, the submitted HDPs must reflect the basis on which funding was applied for, unless a scope change has been agreed with Salix. Every building in scope of the application must be covered by the HDP(s) submitted.

Q2. My building already has an existing low carbon heating system (such as heat pumps), but we think there could be further energy efficiency improvements (such as fabric upgrades). Will those buildings be eligible for a HDP through Phase 3 LCSF?

The LCSF provides funding to enable organisations to put in place or improve an existing heat decarbonisation plan. As set out in the heat decarbonisation plan guidance, organisations should take a “whole building approach” to heat decarbonisation and plans should include any measures necessary to enable cost-effective heat decarbonisation. However, applications to develop a heat decarbonisation plan for buildings where heat decarbonisation has already occurred, will not be eligible.

Q3. Who needs to approve the final heat decarbonisation plan(s) in my organisation? 
 
Salix Finance has been pleased to support a variety of public sector organisations and each organisation will have its own approval processes.  As such, Salix Finance cannot advise who specifically needs to approve your heat decarbonisation plan(s), but we anticipate that approval could come from a manager, the Authorising Official, a board, or a committee. If you are experiencing difficulties with the approval process, you should let your relationship manager know what these are and provide details on when it will be approved.

Q4. Can an applicant apply for Phase 3 LCSF to extend/update an existing heat decarbonisation plan?
 
Yes, provided that the work being carried out is additional. This means that the Phase 3 LCSF grant must be used to fund work that could not be completed without the grant and must not be used for work that has already taken place or, used to cover costs that have already been incurred, or used to cover costs that the organisation already has budget for. 

The additional works, that can be covered by this grant to improve an existing heat decarbonisation plan may include preparation of heat decarbonisation plan (s) for specific building(s) where previously there was a strategic plan covering the entire estate holistically and if additional buildings have now been added or not previously covered. Further changes to site or additional works needing to be incorporated, or availability of strong and specific details, that may require previous assumptions made to be changed and improved in an existing heat decarbonisation plan, may also be eligible.

Q5. Can I apply for feasibility study work? 
 
Yes, where feasibility studies are required as part of the development of a heat decarbonisation plan, they are eligible for funding.  As with all applications, cost and deliverability will also be assessed alongside eligibility, so please provide sufficient information in your application to demonstrate that not only is the feasibility study required as part of your heat decarbonisation plan, but also that it is deliverable and its cost is proportionate to the scope of work proposed. Feasibility studies that are not being carried out as part of the development of a heat decarbonisation plan will not be eligible.  

Further, feasibility studies also need to primarily focus on and demonstrate how they will enable decarbonisation of heat in the building. Feasibility studies for other efficiency measures may only be included if they are alongside and supporting heat decarbonisation of the building and will not be eligible if they are applied for as standalone studies. 

All applicants awarded funding must complete their heat decarbonisation plans before 31st March 2023.  If your project, including any feasibility studies, does not complete before 31st March 2023 there will be no funding available for the balance of the project. 

Q6. Can I use my heat decarbonisation plan funded through Phase 3 LCSF to apply for funding through Phase 3 PSDS?

A heat decarbonisation plan put organisations in a strong position to think more strategically and be better prepared to apply to future capital funding pots for decarbonisation.

For example, applications to Phase 3 of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (Phase 3 PSDS) can be submitted for projects identified in heat decarbonisation plans funded by the Low Carbon Skills Fund. Phase 3 PSDS provides grant funding for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures. Phase 3 provides £1.425 billion over the financial years 2022/23 to 2024/25, with £475 million to be spent in each financial year. Multiple application windows may be made available during this period, in which public sector organisations are able to apply for Phase 3 PSDS funding. Scheme guidance and application criteria is subject to change throughout Phase 3 PSDS.

Applicants should be aware that Phase 3 PSDS funding will only be available for measures that meet the application criteria, relevant to the application window to which they are applying. Projects which include measures that do not meet the application criteria may still apply to Phase 3 PSDS but will need to find alternative funding to cover these costs.

 

Estimated Costs

Q1. If the eligible public sector body has not started a procurement process and they may not have firm costs, how should they estimate grant value requested? 

It is not a requirement to already have a contractor in place at the point of application. The public sector body has the opportunity to test the market and invite quotes from consultants and contractors once they have been awarded funding. The eligible body may also reach out to sector peers for knowledge sharing and advice on estimating costs.

Q2. How are the estimated costs for developing an HDP expected to be evidenced? 

You will not be required to provide firm costs at the point of making an application. However, you will be asked to demonstrate how you have followed, or will follow, robust procurement plans, including due diligence on suppliers and contractors, and confirm how you will adhere to your organisation's procurement policy rules.

All successful grant recipients will be required to appoint contractors and provide evidence of contract award to Salix. The timescales for this will be stated in the Grant Offer Letter. Please find the terms and conditions here

In your application, while estimating costs, and while evidencing contract award during LCSF delivery, we request you to be mindful of your organisation’s position on VAT and only include VAT in the grant request where this cannot be reclaimed from HMRC. 

The grant funding awarded will be decreased, through issue of a Grant Amendment Letter, to match your final contract value however the grant value cannot be increased from the funding requested in application and awarded through Grant Offer Letter to successful recipients.
 

Buildings

Q1.Where can I find my building UPRN and are UPRNs the same as UKPRNs?

A UKPRN is a UK Provider Reference Number. A UPRN is a Unique Property Reference Number and this is what we request. UPRNs exist for all buildings - if you go to the website ‘Find My Address’ you will be able to find the UPRN for each building by entering the postcode. Note that schools and academies should have building UPRNs as well as a Unique Reference Number (URN) for the school. There is more guidance provided on UPRNs in the supplementary building information tool.

Q2. Do I need to provide a UPRN for each of the building(s) that my grant work covers? 

Yes - the purpose of asking for this information is to help quantify the benefits of the LCSF scheme and how your award does/may in the future relate to other Salix Finance grant schemes. You will need to provide this information in the supplementary building information tool at the time of application. If you have difficulty finding the UPRN for a particular building, contact your local authority as each Council has a custodian of building data. If you find you are unable to collate the building UPRN before submitting your application, please write to [email protected], with an explanation of your query. At a minimum, we expect that you have contacted your local authority prior to writing to Salix.

Q3. Is there a limit on how many buildings are mentioned in one application?

There are no limits on the number of buildings you can apply for. However, please bear in mind that they would have to be deliverable by 31st March 2023. You will also need to evidence at the point of application the buildings that will be covered by your heat decarbonisation plan and include their UPRNs in the supplementary building information tool.

Q4. The Supplementary Building Information Tool is not large enough for all the buildings I want to include in my HDP(s), what should I do?

Please email [email protected], who will provide you with a copy of the Supplementary Building Information Tool with more rows.
  

Funding

Q1. How will funding for Phase 3 LCSF be awarded?

Funding for Phase 3 LCSF will be assessed and awarded to eligible projects on a first-come, first-served basis.

Q2. Should my organisation pay our contractors first and then submit our Payment Request to Salix, or wait until we have received the grant money and then pay them?

This is a decision for your organisation and not something that Salix Finance can advise on. Salix will be making payments once a month, from November 2022. The scheduled dates for payment and the respective submission dates, in advance of payment, will be clearly stated in schedule 3 of the Grant Offer Letter. Therefore, your organisation can plan for submitting payment request in accordance with our monthly payment schedule.

 

Payments

Q1. Do we need to submit our final Payment Request to Salix Finance alongside our heat decarbonisation plan, or at another time? 

It’s not essential to send these in together, but it would be very useful if you could, so we won’t have to come back to you to ask for more information. If you do not have your final Payment Request ready, but you have completed your heat decarbonisation plan, we would encourage you to send your heat decarbonisation plan to us. 

Please note: To receive the final payment, you will need to have provided your heat decarbonisation plan and signed your Completion Statement (via DocuSign), by the payment deadline. We will send the Completion Statement to you after we have received your heat decarbonisation plan.

Q2. With respect to grant conditions, would a purchase order qualify as evidence of contract award? 
 
In most cases we are looking for a signed agreement that shows the work has been issued to a contractor, such as a contract award or variation letter. If you only have a purchase order, then we are happy to receive this from the Authorising Official accompanied with a statement to confirm that this is the only evidence available. Please note, the purchase order should reference Phase 3 LCSF and the purpose of the work with respect to the heat decarbonisation plan.