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Business Growth Fund

The Business Growth Fund provides annual funding of £1.3m to support job creation. The fund provides grants and loans for growing companies and is for capital investment only*.

The Business Growth Fund is available to micro, small and medium (SME) businesses (under 250 employees) and start-ups.

Grants

  • Companies can apply for £3,000 - £25,000 in grant funding.
  • Up to £8,000 of grant funding can be applied for, for each job created. This sum can be higher for businesses in specific Priority Sectors**.
  • There is a match funding requirement - usually a minimum of 60% for grants (for grants under £10,000, 50% of the match funding can be working capital).

Loans

  • Companies can apply for £10,000 - £200,000 in loan funding.
  • Up to £16,000 of loan funding can be applied for, for each job created. This sum can be higher for businesses in specific Priority Sectors**.
  • There is a match funding requirement of a minimum of 50% for loans.

Apprenticeship Grant

If an apprentice position is created as a result of grant or loan funding from the Business Growth Fund, an Apprenticeship Grant of £1.5k is available.

* Capital investment examples

Examples of capital investment include building works to upgrade or extend premises (owner occupiers only), purchasing equipment and machinery, developing software, one-off marketing campaigns, developing a new website etc. targeted consultancy, specialised training and new product development. Funding of property or land acquisition is not eligible.

** Priority Sectors

  1. Advanced manufacturing - focusing on higher value niches likely to provide a good return on investment
  2. Advanced materials and electronic systems
  3. Digital and media - in particular digital-related innovation - including telehealth and telecare
  4. Low carbon and environmental goods and services - particularly building on the major investment in the University Technical College and offshore windfarm at Newhaven
  5. Land management - developing specialist, high added-value food and drink production, including brewing and wine making. State aid restrictions apply on some elements.

Funding conditions

Jobs created must be Full Time Equivalent positions comprising a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Apprenticeship positions do not count as jobs created.

State aid sector restrictions apply.

Funding will be prioritised and directed to Priority Sectors identified in the East Sussex Innovation Strategy. Education and residential care services are excluded. For applicants in retail and local service sector, the maximum funding available is a £10k grant or a £20k loan.

50% of the grant and loan payment will be made on evidence of spend. The remaining 50% payment will be made on evidence of jobs created and filled for 3 months.

The maximum loan period is 5 years.

The interest rate of up to 5% will be decided on a case by case basis as recommended by the Grants and Loans Panel.

Any equipment purchased with the funds cannot be sold within three years or the term of the loan, whichever is the greater, without the permission of East Sussex County Council or the funds will have to be repaid in full.

In exceptional circumstances, a repayment holiday of up to 6 months can be offered. Interest will still accrue during this period.

Retrospective funding is NOT allowed for either funding or match under any circumstances.

Funding process

Application forms for grants and loans are available from Locate East Sussex on request by email or phone.

An initial visit or meeting will be carried out by Locate East Sussex to ascertain eligibility for a grant or loan.

All applications for funding are to be submitted on the Application Form to Locate East Sussex with supporting documentation. Supporting documentation includes a business plan, financial projections and the last three years’ financial accounts where appropriate.

Locate East Sussex will carry out financial checks on all applicants prior to appraisal.

All applications for grants up to £10,000 will be appraised by Locate East Sussex and considered by the Small Grants Panel for recommendation.

Applications for grants over £10,000 will be appraised by Locate East Sussex and reviewed by the Economic Development Team at East Sussex County Council and considered by the Grants and Loans Panel for recommendation.

Applications for loans will be sent to the Economic Development Team at East Sussex County Council for appraisal and referral to the Grants and Loans Panel.

Applicants for funding over £20,000 may be required to present at the meeting of the Grants and Loans Panel.

Panel recommendations require approval from the Director of Communities Economy and Transport.

Once approved, successful applicants will be notified by email by the Economic Development Team. The date of this email will count as the formal Offer Date from which the project is deemed to have started and from which all spend is eligible. This is also the date at which the exchange rate with the Euro is taken in cases where State-aid is relevant.

Unsuccessful applicants will be notified of the decision and a rationale for rejection given. There is no appeals process but applicants can re-apply if they clearly address the reasons given for rejection.

Following approval, the Economic Development Team at East Sussex County Council will draw up the grant and loan contract for signing by the beneficiary. A separate loan agreement will be drawn up between Let’s Do Business Group and the beneficiary reflecting the terms in the contract. All repayments will be made to Let’s Do Business Group.

The terms and conditions include a claw back element on a sliding scale to cover instances of contract deviation or instances where a beneficiary moves the relevant business out of East Sussex or sells up.

Claims must be made on Claim Forms accompanied by supporting evidence and an invoice.

Grant claims are sent to Locate East Sussex for verification who inform the Economic Development Team at East Sussex County Council to make payment.

Loan claims are sent to the Economic Development Team at East Sussex County Council who will inform Locate East Sussex when the conditions have been met and the loan payment is to be made.

Payment will be made in a minimum of two tranches. The first tranche will be made on evidence of spend up to 50% of the funding and second and/or third claim with evidence of jobs filled for three months and spend of remaining funding and match funding. Details may vary as long as this is agreed in the contract or with East Sussex County Council Economic Development team.

Apprenticeship Grant

The Apprenticeship Grant is available to all businesses that receive a grant or loan from the Business Growth Fund. Only one Apprenticeship Grant per business can be claimed.

The Apprenticeship Grant can be claimed only after the apprentice has been in post for six months (with evidence that the appointment was made after the funding Offer Date). The grant will not require match funding and will be a one off payment without restrictions and will be paid on evidence of six months of employment of the apprentice.

To find out more email enquiries@locateeastsussex.org.uk or call 01424 205085.