Grants, Funding & Organisation Support

Here you will find information on grants, funding and other support for organisations in Northumberland.

The funding eBulletin is free to signup and provides opportunities available in the local areas.

The Regeneration Programmes Investment team produce a regular Funding eBulletin that is distributed by email to NCC staff, external organisations, individuals and businesses in Northumberland and beyond. The eBulletin includes various funding opportunities from national and local charities, trusts, government and other sources. There is a brief description of the funding opportunity and an active link to take you directly to the funder’s website, where you can learn more about the fund and print off any information you require.

You can access the latest and other recent editions by clicking below:

Latest Funding eBulletin: Previous issues: To be added to the distribution list, please email:

For NCC staff whose function involves searching for funding to support or develop Council services, we could provide a free licence to access the full range of Grantfinder services. Grantfinder is distributed by the Idox group and is Europe’s leading provider of up-to-date funding and policy information. Recipients must have a valid NCC email address therefore partner organisations may not be eligible for a licence.
This page talks about funding searches. The service is free to individuals, community groups and businesses in Northumberland, but you need to register to view them.

GRANTfinder and Northumberland County 4 Community is a user-friendly, accurate UK wide professional funding tool which has helped users to secure millions of pounds worth of support. It is an online, step-by step process which enables you to identify and select funding schemes and awards that are appropriate for your project.
  • A convenient one-stop-shop of funding information.
  • Information source provided on over 8,000 funding schemes including grants, loans and awards from local, regional and national UK government, European funding, charitable trusts and corporate sponsors.
  • Content ranging from modest community funds at one end of the spectrum to major, multi-level European initiatives at the other.
  • Authoritative reference library of articles on topical funding issues (full subscription only).
  • Newsflash service sending approaching deadlines, news of launched funds and policy decisions direct to your inbox (full subscription only).
  • Information is presented jargon-free and in plain English.
  • Interactive Update Bulletin sent weekly and categorised by subject, keeping you up-to-date on areas of interest to you (full subscription only).
The site also contains access to useful self-help guides, including:
  • 10 steps to writing a constitution
  • a beginner’s guide to regeneration terminology
  • writing a fundraising strategy
  • writing a successful business plan
  • how to write a winning financial plan
You can access GRANTfinder by registering some basic details; Northumberland County Council hosts this service and pays a licence fee, but partners and community users can access the funding search service free of charge using the Council licence.

To register click here: GRANTnet webpage - Northumberland County 4 Community

Other free funding search websites and portals:
Grants Online Local Funding for Northumberland

For further information on Northumberland grants and funding searches, or if you wish to receive our funding bulletin by email, please contact:
If you are involved in writing funding applications, the Northumberland Knowledge website can provide informative research and statistics to support your bid.

The term ‘state aid’ refers to a form of public-funded assistance used to support organisations or businesses. State aid rules have been designed to prevent the use of this support in ways that distort competition and free trade in the EU.

The treaty on the functioning of the European Union defines state aid as any aid granted by a member state or through state resources which distorts, or threatens to distort, competition by favouring certain undertakings that could affect trade.

The commission has said that state aid can include:
  • grants direct subsidies
  • tax exemptions
  • preferential interest rates
  • loans, guarantees and provision of goods or services on preferential terms
  • indemnities against losses
  • contracts not open to competitive tendering
  • tax relief
Please note: this list is not exhaustive.

The rules restrict the support the public sector can give organisations that operate in a commercial or economic environment. They don’t apply to the whole sector, only where support could inhibit fair competition with other businesses.

Some aid is illegal under EU rules because it distorts competition in a way that is harmful to the EU. But where it is unavoidable, state aid can be given legally by using a set of approved EU mechanisms for state aid, such as:
  • compliance with de minimis regulation
  • compliance with a block exemption regulation
Not all public funding is necessarily state aid. It is present when a scheme meets all the criteria listed in Article 107 of the treaty of the function of the European Union (TFEU).

If your answer to all four of these following questions is “yes,” your assistance is almost certainly state aid. If some of your answers are “no” then aid may not be present. If you are unsure, seek legal advice.

1. Is the assistance granted by the state or through state resources?
‘Granted by the state’ means by any public or private body controlled by the state (in the UK, this means national or local government). ‘State resources’ can include tax exemptions, lottery funding and EU structural funds over which the state has significant control.

2. Does the assistance give an advantage to one or more undertakings over others?
An ‘undertaking’ is any organisation engaged in economic activity. This is about activity rather than legal form, so non-profit organisations, charities and public bodies can all be undertakings, depending on their activities.

Support to an organisation engaged in a non-economic activity isn’t state aid, e.g. support to individuals through the social security system. This can also include operators and ‘middlemen’ if they benefit from funding ‘economic activity’ means putting goods or services on a market.

It is not necessary to make a profit to be engaged in economic activity. If others in the market offer the same goods or services, it is an economic activity.

An ‘advantage’ can take many forms. It’s not just a grant, loan or tax break but also the use of a state asset for free or less than market price. Essentially, it is something an undertaking could not get normally.

3. Does the assistance distort or have the potential to distort competition?
If the assistance strengthens the recipient relative to its competitors, then the answer is likely to be ‘yes.’ The ‘potential to distort competition’ does not have to be substantial or significant. It may include relatively small amounts of financial support and firms with a modest market share.

4. Does the assistance affect trade between member states?
The interpretation of this is broad, as it is enough that a product or service is tradable between member states, even if the recipient itself does not export to other EU markets.

Aid given illegally has far reaching consequences:
  • If the EU Commission investigate and find aid incompatible with the treaty, you will have to recover with interest, regardless of consequences or difficulty.
  • Even if aid is found to be compatible with the treaty (approvable), interest for the period it wasn’t notified may still have to be recovered.
  • If you get it wrong, it is those you want to help who will suffer the most.
  • A competitor could take you to court in the UK and seek damages. 
De minimis
The de minimis regulation is a useful EU mechanism for state aid, based on the commission’s view that small amounts of aid are unlikely to distort competition. The regulation allows small amounts of aid – less than €200,000 during three fiscal years – to be given for a wide range of purposes. If you use this you don’t need to notify or get approval, but records of aid granted must be kept and all rules of the regulation must be followed.

State aid modernisation (SAM)
In May 2012, the European Commission set out an ambitious state aid reform programme. The modernisation has three main, closely linked objectives:
  • foster growth in a strengthened, dynamic and competitive internal market
  • focus enforcement on cases with the biggest impact on the internal market
  • streamlined rules and faster decisions
The European Commission has now adopted the long-awaited replacement for the 2008 general block exemption regulation (universally known as GBER).

New GBER and regional aid regulations
The purpose of regional state aid is to support economic development and employment. The regional aid guidelines set out the rules under which member states can grant aid to companies to support investments in new production facilities in advantaged regions of Europe or to extend/ modernise existing facilities.

State aids


Certain categories of state aid can only be granted within assisted areas that fulfill the conditions of Article 107(3)(a) of the TFEU. For the purpose of the new state aid regulations, the assisted areas map for Northumberland has been updated and can be found here.

The BIS state aid manual
The attached manual is intended to assist public sector officials understand the state aid rules, show how they apply in practice and explain that it’s not a substitute for the official documentation available from the EU Commission.

BIS state aid manual: BIS-15-148-state-aid-manual

Commission to prolong EU State aid rules and launch evaluation

The European Commission plans to prolong for two years seven sets of State aid rules, otherwise expiring in 2020. The Commission has also launched today an evaluation of those rules and of other State aid rules to assess whether to further prolong them or possibly update them in the future.

Since May 2012, the Commission has implemented a major reform of EU State aid rules, the State Aid Modernisation. This allows Member States to quickly implement State aid that fosters investment, economic growth and job creation, leaving the Commission to focus its State aid control on the cases most liable to distort competition. More than 97% of all State aid measures are now implemented by Member States without the need for prior approval by the Commission. As part of the State Aid Modernisation, the Commission has revised a considerable number of State aid rules since 2013.

A number of the State aid rules adopted as part of the State Aid Modernisation are due to expire by the end of 2020. Other State aid rules adopted as part of the Modernisation process have no fixed expiry date. To provide predictability and legal certainty, whilst preparing for a possible future update of the State aid rules adopted as part of the State Aid Modernisation, theCommission will take two steps.

First, the Commission intends to prolong for two years (until end 2022) the validity of those State aid rules, which would otherwise expire by end 2020. They are the following:
  •         General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER)
  •         De minimis Regulation
  •         Guidelines on regional State aid
  •         Guidelines on State aid to promote risk finance investments
  •         Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy
  •         Guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring
  •         Communication on important projects of common European interest (IPCEI).
Second, in line with the Commission's Better Regulation Guidelines, the Commission will evaluate those rules together with the other State aid rules, which were adopted as part of the State Aid Modernisation. The evaluation was launched today. It takes the form of a “fitness check”. It will provide a basis for decisions, to be taken by the Commission in the future, about whether to further prolong or possibly update the rules. The evaluation will cover the following rules, all of which were adopted as part of the State Aid Modernisation:
  • General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER)
  • De minimis Regulation
  • Guidelines on regional State aid
  • Framework for State aid for research and development and innovation (RDI)
  • Communication on important projects of common European interest (IPCEI)
  • Guidelines on State aid to promote risk finance investments
  • Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines
  • Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy
  • Guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring
The “fitness check” will also cover the Railways Guidelines from 2008 and the Short term export credit Communication from 2012. Those rules were not revised as part of the State Aid Modernisation, but an evaluation is relevant in the light of developments in EU law and the Commission's case practice. 

The “fitness check” will involve internal analyses by the Commission and public consultations as well as, in some cases, studies prepared by external consultants or targeted consultations of specific stakeholders. The results of the exercise will be summarised in a Commission Staff Working Document.

Under the Better Regulation Guidelines, the Commission evaluates if specific laws, policies and spending activities are fit for purpose and have delivered, at minimum cost, the desired changes to European businesses and citizens. The evaluation findings help the Commission decide whether EU actions should be continued or changed.

More specifically, fitness checks assess whether the regulatory framework for a policy sector is “fit for purpose”. Their goal is to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value of specific parts of the EU acquis, thus promoting better/smart legislation, making it more responsive to current and future challenges and helping improve implementation. This includes identifying excessive administrative burdens, overlaps, gaps, inconsistencies and/or obsolete measures that may have appeared over time, and considering the cumulative impact of EU legislation and activities. Their findings serve as a basis for drawing policy conclusions on how well EU policies have been performing and feed into possible consideration on the future of the relevant regulatory framework.

UK State Aid proposals post BREXIT: UK state aid and competition policy proposals post BREXIT

For further information on state aids, please contact David Baird on 01670 623888.
Please note: we are unable to give specific advice on individual cases.

The RGN - Local Growth Fund awarded to Northumberland County Council is a notified scheme. The following is a list of all those projects awarded GBER state aid within the notification period:  
Project name Amount of aid awarded
State aid mechanism
The Sill; National Landscape Discovery Centre
GBER Article 53
The Thinford Development
GBER Article 56
Wansbeck Business Park - New Industrial Estate 186,934 GBER Article 56
Hownsgill Park Industrial Workshop Development 358,968 GBER Article 56
The Amble Inn 448,500 GBER Article 56
Morpeth Railway Station Enterprise Hub 500,000 GBER Article 56
Thinford Phase II 207,000 GBER Article 56
Lynx Precast Ltd -  Design and manufacture of precast concrete stair and landing units 170,000 GBER  Article 14