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Evidence Centre Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer

This information is being shared as part of market warming. The disclaimer contained in the market briefing packs issued on 18 March and on the 4 May applies to this material.

Introduction

This FAQ page has been created to support potential and/or current applicants in understanding the Evidence Centre competition in more detail. The FAQs will evolve and we will continue to update them. We recommend reading the full Expression of Interest document and Market Briefing pack (see here) as well as this page.

While this FAQ is an aid to the other competition documentation it does not take precedent over these documents. As such, Motability refers back to the competition documentation in order to provide clarity and consistency, ensuring no contradictory information is provided.

Where documents are referred to in the FAQ these can be found on our Evidence Centre for inclusive transport website page.

Note: Please ensure that you read this FAQ page before submitting any queries to the mailbox. If you still have questions, submit these to innovation@motability.org.uk.

1. What is the process and deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI)?

Expressions of interest must be submitted in full by 5pm on 27 May 2022. Please see section 18 of the EOI document for how to submit. We recommend that applicants read the EOI documentation in full before submitting a response.

2. What is the word limit for submitting an EOI and is there a template?

Please see instructions to applicants in section 10 of the EOI documentation.

3. The timelines as discussed at the launch event are tight.

We have listened to your feedback and understand that the original timetable felt challenging for some organisations. As a result we are extending the Expression of Interest (EOI) phase to 10 weeks. EOIs are now due on 27 May 2022.

4. Can I have a copy of the launch event and attendee list?

Due to UK data protection rules we can only share the contact details of individuals who have consented. We therefore wrote to all organisations on our contact list on 21 March 2022 to seek permission to share contact details. Once we have received a response (due Monday 28 March) we will circulate contact details where individuals have consented.

5. Can an organisation be part of more than one core consortia partnership at EOI?

Motability wants to treat all participant organisations fairly and therefore organisations will be able to be part of more than one consortium as supporting partners at EOI stage if they wish. An organisation’s participation in more than one consortium is at their own risk and cost, and Motability expects organisations to observe all applicable laws in their commercial dealings. 

However, this is a competitive process which may give access to significant funds and we are looking to Lead Partners to attract the strongest supporting partners to work with to deliver the required outcomes. Therefore, at the second stage (Application stage) of the competition, organisations will need to have selected their preferred consortium and entered into an agreement in principle with them.

Motability will also do more in the coming weeks to connect interested parties with each other to allow you to discuss with other parties how you might work together in a consortium and we have launched a survey this week to improve our understanding of how to manage this process.

6. How can we find other potential applicants to engage with, either as lead or supporting partner in the competition?

We recognise the need for partners to engage one another in order to decide whether those partners are suitable to enter into a consortium with. We see this as critical to the success of the competition for the Evidence Centre.

We therefore wrote to all organisations on our contact list on 21 March 2022 to A) seek permission to share contact details, and B) to enquire about what further engagement is required to support greater partnership building. 

Motability has also created a LinkedIn group to enable networking between potential partners for the Evidence Centre. If you are not on the Motability contact list but think you should be then please email innovation@motability.org.uk and sign up to connect to the LinkedIn group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9163082/

7. Do applicants need to pick their consortium partners at the start of the competition, or can we change during the competition or after the award of the grant?

Applicants are able to partner with multiple consortia as supporting partners at Expression of Interest (EOI) stage if they wish (see FAQ 5 on exclusivity). At Second (Application) Stage applicants will need to have identified their preferred consortium (and the consortium will need to have entered into an agreement in principle between the members).

If a consortium adds a new consortium member during the competition process (i.e. before grant award) Motability may conduct due diligence on the member as well as assess their technical capability (especially if they are replacing a applicant who has previously been relied upon to pass EOI stage).

Where a consortium wishes to otherwise change its make-up during the competition process (i.e., before grant award) and that change will make a material change to its application, Motability generally reserves its rights on how to respond in those circumstances.

Once the grant has been awarded, if the consortium seeks to change its makeup the Lead Partner will need to provide the rationale for doing so as well as assurances that any new consortium members are able to bring the same level of expertise to the Evidence Centre.

Motability reserves its rights in these circumstances but will likely manage such requests on a case-by-case basis and where appropriate carry out due diligence or put in place additional controls via the grant agreement with the lead partner.

8. Should we put ourselves forward as part of a consortium or wait and approach the winning applicant?

This is a decision for each organisation and Motability cannot decide for on your behalf. Organisations which wish to engage the winning applicant will need to meet the change of consortium structure rules as set out in FAQ 7).

It is worth noting that where a applicant does not approach a consortium until after the competition there is no guarantee of being accepted into the consortium by its existing members. Motability will also require assurances that the new member brings the correct expertise so will apply due diligence and technical capability checks akin to those conducted during the competition.

9. Our Parent Company is based offshore, would this rule us out of any grant funding?

Motability is a UK based charity serving customers/beneficiaries in the UK and is funded/regulated as such.

Consortia members will be required to have as a minimum a significant UK presence and should be UK registered.  Consortia members with foreign parents (who are not Lead Partners) will not be excluded from participation. However, the Lead Partner will need to be a UK registered organisation and its parent will need to be UK registered as well.

Where an eligible organisation has a foreign parent Motability reserves the right to conduct additional due diligence and to include appropriate additional contract terms in the Lead Partner’s grant agreement.

10. How do you expect research programmes to be governed/delivered once the Evidence Centre is set-up? Will the consortium propose specific costed projects, or do you expect a full programme of activities to be agreed upfront?

The aim of the Evidence Centre is to ensure the generation and application of powerful evidence that aims to close the transport accessibility gap for disabled people. We have identified 11 initial problem areas and the skill sets which we expect the Evidence Centre to address. Given the seven-year duration of the Evidence Centre we expect the consortium to react to changes in any identified problem areas and beyond.

The consortium will, via the consortium board, make decisions about priorities and funding allocations within the consortium to address problem areas. The consortium board will have regular reporting obligations to Motability as the grant funder. Motability will manage performance against objectives included in the grant agreement, which will include commitments made at the Second (Application) stage of the competition, which in turn will be linked to the release of funding.

We do not expect the consortium to know at application stage exactly what programmes it will deliver over the 7 years of the evidence centre. We will however assess the consortium’s ability to set up and deliver programmes in the optimal way via a pro-forma project as well as (amongst other things) how they might address the 11 problem areas and how they would mobilise the Evidence Centre (see application stage evaluation criteria included in the market briefing pack).

11. Could you please confirm what the funding rate would be for different partners in the consortium?

It is the responsibility of the lead and supporting consortium partners to work out the relevant allocation rates between themselves. It will be the lead partner's responsibility to distribute the grant amongst the consortium members and sub-contractors based on the research programmes delivered. We will not be requesting match funding from any of the partners.

12. What is the purpose of the interviews/familiarisation sessions, what do we need to prepare and are they scored?

Applicants who pass the Expression of Interest (EOI) stage will be invited to a series of familiarisation sessions (these have been referred to in the past as interviews, however for clarity these are now being referred to as familiarisation sessions). These will take place shortly after competition documents have been issued.

The purpose of these is to give consortium members the opportunity to ask questions about the Second (Application) Stage documents and for Motability to ask questions of the Lead Partner and understand their motivations and meet the leadership.

Applicants should see section 12 of the EOI documentation for further information. 

13. How many consortia will you award grants to?

Just one consortium will be awarded a grant, but we are not looking at restricting the numbers of organisations within the consortium.

It should be noted that only the Lead Partner will be awarded a grant and will need to manage the consortium (and put in place a contractual agreement between the consortium members). Please see section 3 of the Expression of Interest document for further information.

14. Are only lead partners (not supporting partners or sub-contractors) expected to form part of the leadership of the evidence centre?

From a financial management and grant monitoring perspective, Motability seeks to grant fund a lead partner with the financial capability to distribute funds among consortium members and for the lead partner to form and convene a Consortium Board to provide strategic governance for the Evidence Centre and oversee the delivery of its purpose and outcomes.

The Consortium Board will consist of the lead partner, supporting partners and any other consortium members. All of these members have a vital leadership role to play in the setting up and operating of the evidence centre; there is an especially important role in thought leadership, agenda-setting and knowledge mobilisation to be played by those organisations with the deepest understanding of the lived experience of disabled people, regardless of whether those organisations are defined as the ‘lead partner’.

Motability would like to stress how fundamental the involvement, representation and meaningful engagement of disabled people and Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) will be to the success of the Evidence Centre.

The consortium leadership will need to demonstrate that it has the skills and capabilities to bring disabled people, Disabled People’s Organisations, transport providers and policy makers together to co-produce research programmes and implement change at scale. Motability recognises that a range of partners with different skill sets and sufficient operational capabilities is required, given how much collaboration is needed to affect change in inclusive transport.

15. If an organisation has concerns over the Financial Assessment form would Motability be open to discuss this so that they can gain an understanding of how likely they might be to pass the assessment before further effort is expended?

We are committed to acting in a collaborative way throughout this competition process and to ensure any applicants are not excluded unduly. We will need to understand the nature of the issues which an organisation is facing and can then make an assessment of any planned mitigations that are being put in place or any extenuating circumstances which are impacting financial health. Applicants should set out these issues via email after which we will be happy to meet and discuss.

Please note that as detailed in the instructions in the Financial Analysis Template applicants are also able to provide detail of any mitigating circumstances which may be leading to a sub-optimal outcome in the R/A/G rating.

16. I understand that Motability intend to further communicate information about the Application Stage in advance. Can you please provide further details?

Motability are targeting sharing the draft Application (second) Stage documentation well ahead of the EOI deadline as well as the grant terms and conditions. There will be a webinar to accompany the launch to answer any questions applicants may have. While the Application Stage evaluation criteria in the market briefing pack are indicative they are a strong indicator of the questions applicants will need to answer at that stage. The financial submission requirements are still being developed however a high level description is also contained in the market briefing pack.

17. Will you be matching individual parties to a winning consortium e.g. if you felt a strong organisation was in a losing consortium, would you then encourage the winning consortium to adopt them?

Organisations can apply to be part of more than one consortium at EOI stage (see FAQ 5). Motability will always try to encourage dialogue between parties it believes could work well together and held a speed dating event to facilitate this on the 20th of April. However, we both recognise and respect that it is for consortium members to collaborate and arrange their own applications. We will facilitate ongoing engagement during the early stages of the EC competition process to ensure as wide a range of stakeholders are involved as possible.

18. We are currently discussing VAT implications that may arise from a Lead partner sub-contracting work to a third party. Can you provide further information?

Any lead partner (and its consortium and sub-contractors) should take its own professional advice on tax matters, including VAT status and recoverability.  For instance, in relation to Motability, as a registered charity, some of our charitable activities are exempt, zero rated, reduced or standard rate depending on the activity.

There are no black & white VAT rules for grants and restricted funding.  As per HMRC rules, VAT status for these depends largely on the substance of any agreement in place or the activities being undertaken with the grant funding. HMRC publishes general guidance on how to interpret these.

Therefore it is important that professional advice is taken by applicants depending on both their own VAT status and the nature of the activity and Motability cannot provide specific advice on the matter.  Motability has therefore not made any definitive assumption for VAT treatment on the Evidence Centre or the resulting impact of VAT on the grants value for money within a consortium.

For the purposes of the Evidence Centre’s indicative terms and conditions of Grant, Motability has included the following clause, which is a standard clause in grant funding arrangements: “Payments made under the Grant Award are intended to be outside the scope of VAT but if any VAT is payable our payment to you is deemed inclusive of VAT.”  Similarly, in relation to sub-contracting Motability has made clear that where a applicant sub-awards any part of the Grant that use and financial management of the Grant will remain for their accountability.

19. Can you please clarify if Motability the Charity or Motability Operations is the ultimate funder of the centre?

Motability, the charity, is the funder of the Evidence Centre. All organisational details can be found on our Annual Report and Accounts.

20. We are currently unsure of the legal structure our consortium should take.

Section 3.2 *(see below) of the EOI document details Motability’s position regarding consortium structure. We recognise that different consortium models may have differing commercial implications for its members however Motability is not seeking to influence the structure of the consortium being created. Applicants should select a consortium structure which best suits their needs and best supports their delivery model to ensure the benefits to the operation of the Evidence Centre are maximised. Applicants should feel free to explain their consortium make up at the point the EOI response is submitted in a covering note if they feel this would be helpful context to their submission.

Extract from EOI documentation:

3.2. The Lead Partner will form a consortium with other relevant organisations. This consortium may take a number of forms e.g., a contractual agreement between the lead partner and the consortium members, or the formation of a company with a joint venture/shareholders agreement.

3.3. Motability recognises that a form of consortium agreement between the lead partner and its consortium partners will be necessary. Motability will not prescribe the form for this agreement and is not party to it.

3.4. The Lead Partner and its consortium members will be able to structure its internal arrangements in a manner that best suits the purpose of the Grant. However, Motability will expect a form of binding legal arrangement that provides the certainty, stability and underpinning of the vision for the Evidence Centre, and its future, over a seven-year period. Motability is flexible and open to all feedback and suggestions, as long as it fits within the parameter of a Lead Partner of a consortium being responsible to Motability under the Grant Agreement.

21. Can a lead partner also be a supporting partner of another applying consortium at EOI stage?

Motability wants to carry out a robust grant competition process while treating all organisations fairly. While we accept that organisations can appear in multiple consortia as supporting partners at EOI stage (see FAQ 5) we would not expect a supporting partner to appear as a Lead Partner of another consortium at EOI stage (or final application stage).

While an organisation may have a range of capabilities which it may be interested in deploying as a lead partner or a supporting partner, i.e. by joining one application as a supporting partner, and convening another application as a lead partner; allowing this casts questions on the legitimacy of our grant competition process for a number of reasons:

  1. Confidentiality - A would-be lead partner may gain access to privileged information through appearing as a supporting partner in one application, while also leading on their own competing application. We recognise that currently, given non-exclusivity for supporting partners at EOI stage, there may still be this risk of sharing information across competing consortia. However, this can be mitigated through (for example) NDAs between leads and supporting partners, whereas an NDA may become unworkable in the case of a supporting partner appearing as a lead in another consortium. We are also conscious of the risk to the consortia planning process that may arise (i.e. by undermining trust in the relationships being built between partners).
  2. Fairness – We would receive a number of grant applications involving the same group of organisations, but with simply different permutations of which organisations appear as a lead versus a support. We feel this would result in a narrower range of organisations involved in the grant competition We feel this might also advantage larger organisations over smaller, specialist, organisations.
  3. Complexity -  Permitting lead partners to also apply as supporting partners, and a) the resulting increase in applications, and b) the complexity introduced by mitigating against the risks we have identified (i.e. by ensuring satisfactory confidentiality precautions are in place) would place undue pressure on the grant competition process for all parties and risk delegitimising the process.
  4. Suitability - We recognize that some organisations may be able to operate as a lead as well as a supporting partner, and may want to apply using different consortia structures as they may bring value to either role. We will leave it to consortia to organise themselves in a way that allows each partner to contribute their skill set in a way they think best however on balance the positives of allowing full flexibility are outweighed by the issues we have set out here. Organisations should make a decision as to which role they wish to play depending on where they can best add value. Convening and managing £20 million in grant funding over seven years is a key skillset of the potential Lead Partner and organisations should be confident that they have those skills.

On balance, therefore, we do not accept applicant entities appearing as both supporting partners and Lead Partners. Finally, it is important to note that even if organisations do not end up being lead or supporting partners in the evidence centre, there may be the opportunity to work with the centre as a subcontractor, key stakeholder, user of the centre’s expertise and evidence, or to join the consortium at a later date if the consortium so wishes.

22. As a commercial organisation, applying for a grant to a charitable funded organisation, is there any charity related points we should bear in mind when applying to Motability (the charity) for the grant award as Lead Partner in the competition for the Evidence Centre?

Motability is a charity, established by Royal Charter, and is registered as a charity in England & Wales and Scotland. As a charity, it is regulated by the Charities Commission in both jurisdictions and is subject to charities laws.  It is recognised that charities can grant-fund commercial organisations and that “commercial organisations” can take many different forms.  However, any charity will have to satisfy itself that any such grant funding supports its charity’s charitable object/purpose and is for the public benefit - and that any private benefit is incidental. Motability will therefore follow appropriate charities law and guidance when considering whether or not to grant-fund a commercial organisation, should such organisation apply for the grant as Lead Partner for the Evidence Centre.  Commercial organisations are therefore advised to bear this in mind when making any application as Lead Partner. 

While Motability is not able to provide an exhaustive answer to this question, it is hoped that this is a helpful general reminder to commercial organisations on some important charity related considerations.

Motability also would draw attention to paragraph 1.5-1.9 of its EOI document; paragraph 1.9 is set out below:

Motability, Charitable Objective

As a charity, Motability must always act within its charitable object in the best interests of its beneficiaries, who are all disabled people in need of assistance with their personal transportation. Motability must account publicly for its actions, reporting on its charitable activity and the resulting public benefit. This is part of the Motability charitable proposition.

Motability’s charitable proposition must be transparent to all Scheme customers and the wider public, particularly the charitable work of Motability beyond the Scheme, including its innovation activities.

All applicant organisations expressing an interest are requested to bear this context in mind when applying and developing their interest in this opportunity.” 

23. Is it possible for a public body to be the lead or supporting partner of a consortium?

Motability welcomes the interest from public bodies generated by the competition for grant funding the Evidence Centre. Public bodies take many forms, and include central government departments, local/regional/combined authorities and executive non departmental public bodies and others. 

We recognise that public bodies are important stakeholders for the Evidence Centre, and indeed may be considered potential future important users of its outputs.  Motability wishes to run as inclusive a grant application process as possible and is therefore not excluding interest from any sector - whether public, charity, research, higher educational, commercial or other where a partner can demonstrate value to the Evidence Centre (and our charitable proposition). 

However Motability currently thinks that a public sector body which is directly funded by government and not independent of it (e.g. a central government department, a local/regional/combined authority) would be unlikely to be natural Lead Partners for the Evidence Centre.  These bodies may more likely be supporting partners in a consortium, depending on such things as the nature of the role/expertise/value they could offer to any consortium. Other public sector bodies not in the aforementioned categories may more naturally be able to demonstrate that they could participate also as a Lead Partner (as well as a supporting Partner) to any consortium, with independence of funding and policy/operations being particularly important considerations.

Any consortium that includes a public body should approach Motability before submission of EOI, so we can ensure we adequately understand the background to the public body’s involvement.

24. How is Motability ensuring the competition process is diverse and inclusive?

We have tried to make this grant competition process as diverse and inclusive as possible by appointing competition advisors from a range of backgrounds and drawing on the lived experiences of our Board members who will take part in the selection process. We have also placed a great emphasis on transparency, sharing information proactively and publicly with all those who are interested – not just those previously known to us - so that as many organisations as possible can take part. While scoping the Evidence Centre we have engaged with grant funding experts to understand best practice in diversity and inclusion in grant funding competitions of this kind, and will build this learning into the final application stage. We are always seeking further learning and we are open to suggestions – you can email us at innovation@motability.org.uk

25. What is the rationale for a competitive process that ‘pits people against each other’ rather than a non-competitive funding process?

While scoping the need and purpose for an Evidence Centre on inclusive transport we weighed up a number of options on how the Centre would work, how it could be set up, and how it would be funded, based on what others have done in the UK and elsewhere in the evidence centre space. We presented options to our Board of Governors, who took the decision that giving such a large amount of funding over a long time period merited a robust, transparent, and open process – hence the rationale for a grant competition. Motability’s charitable proposition includes securing for its beneficiaries the best value for money for its grant funding and we wish to both attract and secure the best assembly of cross disciplinary skills/experts we can to support the Evidence Centre.  A public grant competition helps us with this aim. The consortium will likely engage and collaborate with a much wider network of stakeholders who aren’t necessarily involved in running the Centre.

26. How many members should there be in any consortium?

We are not being prescriptive as to the number of members in the consortium. We hope to grant fund a consortium to operate the evidence centre rather than one single organisation because we believe that the capabilities and expertise we seek to achieve the evidence centre’s vision require organisations working together across disciplines and sectors. Applying consortia should work out how they can strike the best balance between coordinating organisations that represent the range of skills and capabilities required for delivering the centre’s core activities, while remaining agile, efficient and providing value for money. We will be looking for lead partners to demonstrate how they will achieve this balance at final grant application stage.

27. How will the formation of the Evidence Centre affect other grant programmes at Motability and will failure to be part of the winning consortium impact on my ability to benefit from further grants?

Motability is currently expanding its grant-making to other organisations. We are doing this in two ways. First, we are opening a number of new funding programmes designed to support interventions that have already been shown to work, for example in the wheelchairs and community transport sectors. Second, we are supporting innovation for the future, for example by establishing an evidence centre to research and develop solutions that will make transport more inclusive. Both achieving impact now and innovating for the future matter to Motability. Grants can be awarded to the same organisations for both purposes. Participation in the evidence centre competition has no bearing on the likelihood of an organisation securing grant funding through other programmes.

28. As part of the EOI process, the Financial Analysis template requires me to input three years’ worth of financial information however we have been operating for less than three years. Are we still allowed to apply?

It’s important to note that as part of our due diligence processes at the Expression of Interest (EOI) stage organisations are able to submit mitigating circumstances as part of their response (please see the Instructions worksheet of EOI Annex 2, financial analysis template). Please complete as much of the template as possible and submit your most recent set of financial statements, including confirmation of whether these have been audited. If newly set up applicants are concerned with regards to how their organisation is reflected in financial analysis as part of the EOI, their submission should be supported with some commentary with respect to their entity’s going concern and viability, including supporting data/information as appropriate.

Please also note that the level of acceptance of any mitigations is dependent on the role the consortium member will play in the consortium. This means that organisations applying as lead partner, and being responsible for distributing £20 million in grant funding across a number of organisations that will make up the evidence centre, will be assessed on the basis they are of sufficient financial standing to fulfil that role. Organisations playing a smaller supporting role will be assessed appropriately.

29. Do I need to submit financial accounts to support my EOI?

Each lead and supporting partner should complete the template within Annex 2 which require three years’ worth of data to be inputted. The template will be used to ascertain the financial standing of consortium members. However, we may ask for financial accounts if we wish to clarify any points as part of the evaluation (to get a wider picture of their financial health). Applicants should also include accompanying evidence where there are mitigating circumstances/justifications which they wish to explain. If you feel that you may need to provide additional information to explain any amber or red ratings in the template please submit the last two full years of audited accounts (i.e. 2019/20 & 2020/21).

30. Motability previously said that it would share the draft grant terms and conditions ahead of the EOI deadline. Can you provide these?

We can now share the draft Grant Terms & Conditions and the draft IP Policy – please find attached here (PDF 737.2 KB). If you would like this document in an alternative format such as Easy Read please contact the Innovation Team via email at innovation@motability.org.uk

Please note that this document is a DRAFT only to support applicants with submitting their EOIs. If you would like to comment, please feedback to the innovation team via the inbox above no later than June 15. The final version of this document will be shared with the consortia who submit successful EOIs and who are invited to the full application stage of the competition.

31. Are governmental partners required to fill out due diligence documents (e.g. EOI annexes?)

The filling out of due diligence documents (annexes 1 and 2) is to allow Motability to undertake checks on whether organisations are legitimate and financially secure, and to provide assurance that partners can be trusted with funding. Just like non-profit/voluntary organisations and private companies, government organisations can also be subject to periods of financial instability. As a result, we would ask that these government partners also fill out due diligence information if applying as part of a consortium or as a lead. It is difficult to create standard templates for government organisations given their wide ranging differences. We would suggest filling out the most relevant sections of the existing two templates, given the intent behind the questions. Please include an accompanying rationale in the template if you are unable to complete any fields. If you have any questions on how to fill out the template for government partners, please get in touch with innovation@motability.org.uk so we can support you.

32. We have to include contact details of funders for case studies. Should I seek permission from funders before providing their contact details to Motability?

Out of courtesy, we would always recommend informing referees that you are sharing their contact details with Motability. If sharing contact details that are not in the public domain, we would additionally recommend seeking permission from contacts before providing their details.

33. If we are successful at EOI stage, what kind of information will be expected to provide at second (and final) application stage?

The final application stage runs from approximately 1 July to 12 August, and is only open to organisations who were successful at EOI stage.

Our draft final application form and accompanying guidance can be found here and the draft costing templates referred to within the draft application form and accompanying guidance can be found here. Please provide any feedback on the draft application form, accompanying guidance, or draft costing templates no later than June 15.