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Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub: Business grants explained

February 26, 2018

It can be confusing to know where to start when it comes to applying for a business grant. Some funding is specific to certain industries or is limited to B2B.

For example, most of the money from the European Regional Development Fund is heavily positioned at established businesses (rather than start-ups) which trade predominantly B2B, as opposed to consumer. The idea is that this is placing investment back into the economy.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub works with various partners which have very different criteria and the Hub assesses each business before signposting them to the appropriate partner.

Becky Parker, Growth Hub business advisor, said: “It can be frustrating for businesses, but the eligibility criteria is very different for each scheme and it very much depends on the business and their growth plans. If ineligible, we would look to signpost to one of the banking partners. For example, NatWest has a great proposition for agricultural businesses in which they will give 100% lending to this specific sector, along with no arrangement fee.

“We would be more than happy to offer the client a free diagnostic to consult with them from a financial perspective. I would like to think we could offer a solution to each client that we speak to, and I would certainly exhaust every partner scheme before I would advise there are no options available to them.”

Grants are classed as ‘match funding’ and have different intervention rates. If the % of intervention was 50%, that would mean that the business would put in half and the grant scheme would match the other half.

The most common partners and their criteria are:

Grants 4 Growth: Operates on a 50% split B2B/B2C with a 10-30% intervention rate for Capital, 60% for Revenue, matched by private funds. This covers: premises expansion, purchase of plant, machinery and equipment, industrial/experimental research, advice and consultancy, market development, tech feasibility and property rights. It excludes: retail, tourism, education, warehousing, health, franchise, resi-property and professional/financial services.

Low Carbon Business Evolution Programme (LCBEP):  The intervention rate is 60%. For every £1000 of the project cost you would get up to £5600 of grant funding. This grant aims to help businesses across Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP reduce their carbon footprint and increase energy efficiency. The project is part funded with support from the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2014 – 2020.

Businesses can apply for LCBEP Low Carbon Enterprise Grants of £2,000 – £10,000. These are capital grants that enable investment to help make the business ‘low carbon’ e.g. for the installation of energy efficient measures in buildings, processes, products and services which will reduce carbon. It also includes revenue grants for further low carbon specialist advice e.g. environmental management systems, energy management systems, carbon foot printing, renewable energy feasibility. Applicants must demonstrate greenhouse gas savings as a result of the grant.

Business Growth Programme (BGP): Operates on an 80%/20% split B2B/B2C with a 50% intervention rate, unless the business can evidence that they are in a rural transitional area, then the intervention rate would move to 60%. The funding is between 10k – 167k. As the funding is broken down into four individual programmes, each have their own criteria. The funding amount/project cost may rule one or the other out, so it can come down to the amounts required by the business.

The four programmes include:

  • The HS2 Supply Chain (Birmingham BGP)
  • The Green Bridge (Birmingham BGP)
  • The Business Development Programme (Birmingham BGP)
  • The Business Innovation Programme (Birmingham BGP)

All of the above require job creation – usually every 10k awarded would require a permanent employee within the organisation. This can also prevent applicants progressing with applications if they have no specific employment budget.

The Small Business Grant Scheme: Operates on an 80%/20% split B2B/B2C with a 53% intervention rate for an SME to apply for product development, new machinery and equipment, premises expansion, refurb. The grants are available from between £1,500 and £10,000. This scheme is NOT for training, software or website development. Job creation is a target, but not required for all grants.  Larger grants would look to see a job created.

Sector specific funding is also available for the manufacturing industry, product commercialisation and innovation.

Sound confusing? To find out what funding your business is eligible for, call the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub’s Business Helpline on 0300 111 8002, for FREE advice on completing your application.

Call the Business Helpline to find out how we can help your business. Call 0300 111 8002.