Babergh and Mid Suffolk set up grant scheme for independent businesses
PUBLISHED: 17:54 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:54 05 May 2020
Two Suffolk councils have agreed to launch a new business support grants scheme for small and independent firms.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils’ cabinets both agreed on Monday afternoon to pump £150,000 each into the scheme, which will be allocated over the next three years.
It is designed for small businesses looking to make improvements and future growth, and, while not being set up as a Covid-19 response fund, it may help independent firms in their recovery or growth later in the year.
Four grants are being set up – growth and increased productivity; enterprise and innovation; high street premises enhancement; and environmental sustainability.
The scheme should help businesses improve shop front aesthetics, create jobs, reduce the environmental impacts of their work, and make technology improvements among other benefits.
Councillor Michael Holt, Babergh’s cabinet member for economic growth said: “This new business fund demonstrates our commitment to driving growth and innovation while also recognising our high street needs and encouraging sustainability and reducing energy costs in our districts, which will be exceedingly important following the impact of Covid-19 on our business landscape.”
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Councillor Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk’s economic growth cabinet member added: “We understand that small businesses are at the heart of our communities and this funding scheme can enable enterprise and economic growth to help businesses grow and diversify as well as increasing employable skills and aspirations to support the needs of the wider community.”
Maximum grants of £2,500 each will be available, except for the enterprise and innovation fund where £5,000 is the cap.
The growth and increased productivity pot can be used for firms wishing to increase floorspace, boost their output or create jobs, while the enterprise and innovation fund will be for supporting new ideas to support how they work.
The high street premises fund could be used for things such as shop front improvements, and the environmental sustainability fund will aid firms wishing to reduce carbon emissions or install renewable energy systems.
The scheme is to go live later in the year and be launched on the councils’ websites.
Liberal Democrat group leader at Mid Suffolk, John Field, questioned whether the grants were too small for businesses to bother applying for, but Mr Brewster said the post-Covid-19 landscape meant some firms would be looking at changes to the way they worked which could be eligible for grants.
The cash is coming from the unallocated business rates pilot fund in the councils’ existing budgets.
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