Trading SMEs, social enterprises, charities or sole traders based in the area covered by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are eligible to apply. Tony McDonough reports
Small businesses in Cheshire and Warrington can apply for COVID-19 recovery grants under a new £1.15m programme.
Trading small and medium enterprises, social enterprises, charities or sole traders based in the area covered by Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are eligible to apply for the cash. They must have been trading for at least 12 months.
The Cheshire & Warrington Recovery & Restructure Grant can offer grants of up to 80% to a maximum of £5,000 (or up to 60% on items purchased from May 1 to July 23) to cover costs incurred as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Blue Orchid Enterprise Solutions is managing the fund on behalf of the LEP and a round 50% of the funding is being directed towards the region’s hard hit visitor economy, targeting tourism, hospitality and retail businesses with support. The balance will be paid to SMEs in the wider economy.
There are two strands to the programme – capital items and consultancy cost. The grant can, for instance, pay towards capital items businesses may need to recover or restructure their business to trade through the COVID-19 outbreak
Examples of the support that can be provided includes:
- IT equipment, eg tablet and contact payment systems, ICT equipment to support homeworking (capped at £1,000 for sole traders.
- Fixed PPE equipment, eg plastics screens and sanitiser dispensers.
- Building alterations, eg creation of one-way systems, building of outdoor seating, serving hatches etc.
Consultancy grants will help business to bring in external expertise to support their entry into new markets, engaging new customers or improving efficiency, for example through re-branding or promotional campaigns, market research or improving their online presence.
The grant cannot pay for day-to-day running costs, servicing debt or towards cashflow. Other Government programmes are available to help with these issues.
Clare Hayward, chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “We know all too well through the work our Business Growth Hub team is doing, supporting local businesses, just how tough it is out there. These are market conditions that no one has experienced before. We will continue to work tirelessly to help companies of every size get along the road to recovery.
“This round of small business grants has a big focus on the visitor economy and follows on from the £15.5m of support we have secured from the government’s Getting Building Fund for key projects in Cheshire East, Chester West and Warrington.”