There's a whole host of financial assistance available to businesses post-Covid
Larraine Boorman has over 25 years’ senior executive experience and brings significant and diverse sector knowledge to the LLEP Board. She started her career as a ‘fast-track’ management trainee in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, before moving into senior management roles in engineering; logistics and distribution; construction; employment and skills; and training and education.
We caught up with her to find out about the range of financial help available to businesses of all sizes as we come out of all lockdown restrictions.
“There is so much help available for businesses right now. In fact, there’s such a lot that it can be difficult to know where to start. I’ve spoken to lots of clients about this recently and the first thing I tell them is: get in touch with your local authority.
“Here in Leicester and Leicestershire, our city, county and district councils have been allocated several pots of funding to help businesses affected by lockdowns. The lockdowns might be over, but their economic effects are likely to be long-lasting, and there is still help available. In fact, Leicestershire County Council and the District councils recently requested more funding from central government to help businesses in need.
“Sometimes the process can seem a bit overwhelming, but help is at hand. There is a Growth Hub dedicated to helping businesses access advice, information, and support. It is called the Business Gateway and is managed by a LLEP partnership.
“The Business Gateway’s Business Advisers can help you decide which grants and loans are right for your business, and talk you through the process of how to apply. All Business Gateway services are fully funded so free to local businesses. You can find out more on the Business Gateway website or call 0116 366 8487.
“There is a range of specialised funding available. For example, manufacturing businesses can take advantage of a grant that has been around since before the pandemic. It is a 50% grant of up to £10,000 which has to be match-funded by the business itself.
“Technology and innovation grants can help businesses with practical needs, such as upskilling their staff in the use of ICT. Innovation projects are a particularly high priority for grant funding, and any businesses looking to innovate should check out the funding available.
“Restart grants and additional restrictions grants are available for businesses that have had to close completely during the restrictions. These are one-off grants that don’t have to be paid back. Qualifying businesses can claim up to around £18,000. As well as this, business recovery loans which give companies 2-6 years to pay them back. Up to £10 million is available, depending on the size of the business applying. This loan scheme is open until 31 December 2021.
“If you are applying for funding, I’m well aware that the process can seem daunting.
Personally, I’d like to see a bit less red tape involved, particularly for the smaller grants, as many business owners – particularly those running smaller businesses – simply don’t have the time or the expertise to navigate the many grants and loans themselves. That’s why I’ve come up with a couple of top tips for businesses looking to apply:
My top tips for funding applications
- The two best places to go to find all the information you need are the Gov.uk website and your local authority’s website. Both of these should have an overview of what’s available nationally and in your local area.
- Contact the Business Gateway Growth Hub to get help to access the support and funding you need for your business. In addition, you can sign up for alerts from the LLEP and the Business Gateway. Their newsletters contain all sorts of information that’s relevant for businesses, including the latest grants and loans available for businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire.”