Posted on Thursday 12th May 2022
A unique partnership to help the Staffordshire economy to survive and thrive during and after the pandemic has so far allocated over £3.4m to nearly 1,000 small and medium-sized business across Staffordshire.
Set up by Staffordshire County Council, the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme brings together funding and resources available from all the county’s borough and district councils to help more businesses with support quicker than ever before.
It means that an extra £3.4m of help and support has been allocated to Staffordshire businesses over the last two years than was originally available from central government. The scheme brings together Covid-19 business relief grants from district and borough councils with additional funding from the county council.
Now almost 4,000 entrepreneurs, employees and potential business owners have benefited from growth grants, interest-free loans, fully funded business advice, training and finance to upskill their staff and take on apprentices.
The scheme has seen over £390,000 allocated in grants to support businesses to survive and grow, over £1.6 million to support over 400 new apprentices and over £550,000 to support almost 2,500 employees with fully funded training for the skills they need now and into the future. Thanks to the success of the scheme, the county council was allocated an additional £726,000 from the UK Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund to continue the scheme’s apprenticeship, start-up loans and start-up support schemes.
Charlie, 18, from Newcastle is studying at NSCG Newcastle College and is hoping to set up her own business based on the start-up training she’s received from the Ignite scheme, which has so far supported over 4,700 college students.
Ignite is about the confidence and the stepping-stones to get where I want to be. Before I had only a rough idea what I needed to do. Now I know exactly what I need to do and so excited to set up.”
The owners of Print Box and Antidote Hair in South Staffordshire and Central Medical Supplies in Leek all say that their survival was thanks to the quick turnaround of a grant from the partnership.
Central Medical received a grant of £5,000 in just over two weeks following an application for a Thrive Grant from the scheme.
Jon Pollett, finance director at Central Medical, said:
It was an extremely worrying time during the lockdown when demand literally vanished overnight. We really felt the impact.
But thanks to the Staffordshire Means Back to Business grant and our commitment to our customers, we were able to change how we do things and meet customers’ new expectations.
The grant from the scheme was absolutely critical to our survival and was also the springboard to our growth.”
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said:
The Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme is unique in the UK and has made a very real impact. When lockdown struck and at least half of the economy shut down overnight, we knew that we needed to do more and fast to support local businesses.
While the pandemic was devastating and sadly some businesses were lost, this additional funding has helped many businesses with what during such an uncertain time, and even grow and change to be more robust for the challenges of the future.”
Although most of the funding has now been allocated, a small number of grants of up to £5,000 are available to businesses in Newcastle looking to take on or support an apprentice. More information is available at bit.ly/AnApprenticeForLess
Any business less than two years old can apply for an interest free start-up loan of up to £5,000, with more information while anyone looking to start up their own business can get bespoke professional business and marketing advice and support through the Get Started scheme at bit/ly/GetStartedWithSCC
The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub on 0300 111 8002 has dedicated business advisors on hand to support and signpost businesses to current funding and professional support.