Ensuring value for money from Rural Development Grants made without competition
The Auditor General's report looks at whether grants made without competition by the Welsh Government’s rural development programme provided value for money.
The Welsh Government’s Rural Development Programme aims to promote strong, sustainable rural economic growth and community-led development in Wales.
It supports projects within the food, farming and forestry industries to improve productivity, diversity and efficiency.
What we did
To 31 August 2019, the Welsh Government has awarded grants totalling £598 million from the Rural Development programme. Generally it makes grants of Rural Development Programme money to new projects following processes involving open competition between applicants; which helps to ensure that the best projects receive the funds. However, the Welsh Government granted £68 million through ‘direct applications’. In this process, officials invited known individuals or organisations to apply without any competition.
We reviewed a £59 million sample comprising the largest of these direct applications to see if, in the absence of competition, the Welsh Government had taken appropriate alternative measures to secure value for money.
We also reviewed a sample of £30 million funding rewarded by Welsh Government to existing projects to see if the decisions to reward this funding were informed by an evaluation of its success, whether or not the original award had been subject to competition. To date, in the 2014 – 2020 programme, the Welsh Government has given £62 million of additional funding to existing projects.
We focused on the Welsh Government’s processes and controls for grants awarded between January 2016 and January 2019. We did not review the actual projects that received the funds.