Subsidy control: guidance

Guidance to help public sector bodies to understand and comply with subsidy control.

Subsidy schemes

Subsidy awards can be standalone, or made as part of a scheme. 

A subsidy scheme allows multiple subsidies for the same basic policy purpose to be given to multiple recipients. 

The advantage of awarding subsidies under a scheme is that it reduces your administrative burden, as you don’t need to do an individual assessment against the principles for each subsidy. The principles assessment will be completed at scheme level, therefore any subsidies given under a scheme must then comply with those terms and conditions. The assessment of a subsidy scheme should focus on the scheme-level conditions and eligibility criteria that can give a public authority reasonable confidence that every subsidy given under the scheme will be consistent with the principles.

Schemes can still be challenged through the Courts, but individual subsidies given under schemes can’t be challenged for compliance against the principles or other subsidy control requirements.

This is because compliance has already been established at scheme level. More information on the challenge process for subsidies can be found in a later section.

Scheme document

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) Statutory Guidance states that public authorities should ensure that they create and retain a ‘scheme document’. This ensures that there is a formal record of the details and making of a scheme that sets out its conditions and eligibility criteria. Although there is no single method of documenting this, DBT advise that a ‘Scheme Document’ should be completed that records at least the following information: 

  • name of the scheme
  • a statement by the public authority that the scheme is made under section 10(1) of the Subsidy Control Act 2022
  • date on which the scheme was made 
  • purpose of the scheme
  • budget of the scheme
  • conditions of the scheme
  • form and calculation of the subsidy 
  • duration of the scheme

To assist colleagues, we have created a basic template that can be completed to document the minimum required information. This includes detailed descriptions from the statutory guidance of what is required for each section and can be found in the supporting documents section at the top right of our page.

More detail on the ‘Scheme Document’ can be found from Section 3.118 onwards of the Statutory Guidance.

Legacy Schemes

Subsidies given or subsidy schemes made before the commencement of the Act on 4 January 2023 will have what’s called a 'legacy' status.

Legacy subsidies and schemes are exempt from most of the subsidy control requirements, with the exception of the transparency obligations. This also means they’re not required to be assessed against the subsidy control principles.

More detail on subsidy schemes can be found from Section 3.26 onwards of the Statutory Guidance and section 30 of the Subsidy Control Act.

Specific information in relation to legacy subsidies and schemes can be found from section 9.1 of the guidance and section 48 of the Act.


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