The minimum points score needed to be successful in the latest phase of the Tier 1 capital grant scheme have dropped, DAERA has confirmed.

In the fourth tranche of the scheme, applicants needed to score at least 56 in the points-based selection criteria, down from 73 points last time round.

It means some applicants could get over the line without extra “value for money” points which requires bidding for less than the maximum grant available for each item.

For example, top priority items such as low-emission slurry spreading equipment and fertiliser sowers have 46 points available.

The minimum score of 56 can then be reached if the applicant has not been successful in a previous tranche (five points) and has at least a level two qualification in agriculture (five points).

On top of that, a further five points are available for anyone under 40 years of age.

However, extra points under value for money criteria are required for any application that contains items outside of the top priority band.

For example, band two items, which includes the likes of slat mats and mobile cattle crushes, bring in 40 points, so the maximum possible score without value for money points is only 55.

Only 34 points are available for band three items, such as livestock trailers and cubicle mattresses. The lowest priority items in band four, which includes diet feeders and cubicle mats, bring in 28 points.

Under bidding

With previous phases of the Tier 1 grant scheme being over-subscribed, reports suggest that many applicants were keen to bid for less than the maximum grant to boost their points score under value for money.

However, with DAERA’s reference price for many eligible items also falling below actual quotes from suppliers, very few applicants will receive the maximum grant rate to cover 40% of their total costs.

In November 2022, DAERA received 2,816 applications for the £10m scheme. A Department spokesperson said all letters of offer have now been issued and 2,322 applications were successful.

Tier 1 participants have six months from the date on their letter of offer to purchase items and submit a claim for grant funding, although extensions are available if there are delays with suppliers.

So far, DAERA has received 235 final claims to draw down funding in the fourth tranche.