South East LEP is launching a range of initiatives to help boost economic recovery in the South East.
From business guidance and advice, business grants, support for the Visitor Economy, skills training, assistance for those who have been made unemployed or redundant, events to free digital kit as part of a wide programme of support which will kick-start economic recovery.
The South East LEP’s £2.4m COVID-19 Business Support Fund and the £2m Skills COVID-19 Recovery Fund will be used to support the recovery of the economy in 2021, investing directly in those areas across the South East most affected by the pandemic, and providing businesses with the tools they need to build back stronger in these changed economic conditions.
South East LEP Chief Executive Adam Bryan said:
“The launch of these support packages comes at a crucial time as the economy opens up but wider national funding, particularly Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan (BBL) schemes come to an end.
“2021 will focus heavily on recovery – with SELEP helping to lead the effort in the South East. We have used business information and intelligence to tailor what we are offering to meet the gaps and needs of our local area – these funds will provide a much-needed boost for business and individuals in the SELEP area.”
What is on offer?
COVID-19 Business Support Fund
The £2.4 million COVID-19 Business Support Fund has been split into three individual business support programmes.
Business Success for Pre-Starts and Start-Ups
A package of learning, advice and mentoring and full support to new entrepreneurs to ensure greater survival and build resilience. Entrepreneurs and start-ups in the South East will be able to sign up for an online-only series of start-up courses and one-to-ones and a full suite of learning materials. There is also support for completing grant applications and a small pot of grant funding available for some businesses.
Adapting with Digital for Retail and E-Commerce
Helping businesses to be more resilient and efficient by developing digital skills is crucial and can make a real difference to the competitiveness of the business. This online support programme will include masterclasses, awareness seminars and a week-long special event designed to provide the tools needed for retail businesses in particular to master e-commerce and creating an effective online presence. A small number of Digital/Technology grants will be available to SMEs to resolve specific technology-related issues or new online digital services that will transform their business.
Supporting the Visitor Economy
Businesses will be able to apply for funding needed to respond to changes in the tourism sector, as part of an approach for long-term resilience and adaptation of the industry post-COVID-19. This includes capitalising on the anticipated staycation boom this year.
Skills COVID-19 Recovery Fund
The £2 million Skills COVID-19 Recovery Fund has been split into three separate programmes to ensure that the funds are being put to best use.
The SELEP Digital Bridge
People will be able to access a one-stop digital support service that provides e-learning and remote training, with the equipment and data needed to access these services. 1,750 people will be supported with digital kit, connectivity or basic digital support. This will be tailored to help bridge the digital gap with those communities at risk of experiencing digital exclusion, therefore providing them with new opportunities.
SELEP Digital Skills Programme
Up to 200 people in the South East will receive training to level 4 in software, data, cyber and cloud skills—all sectors that are experiencing high levels of growth—and receive certification upon completion in partnership with BCS, Microsoft and AWS. Graduates of the course will be provided with a pathway into entry-level jobs in these in-demand roles. A key focus of the programme will be to encourage diversity in these industries and encourage inclusivity by providing free training to under-represented and marginalised groups.
COVID Recovery Academy
The COVID Recovery Academy will provide a training and skills programme for around 1,000 people who are recently unemployed or redundant due to the impact of COVID-19. This Academy will allow individuals to learn new skills and achieve industry-relevant qualifications with the aim of moving into employment in key growth sectors in the South East.
Businesses and partner organisations will be able to hear about the grants, schemes and projects on offer through the COVID-19 Recovery Fund programme at a dedicated webinar on the 27th May 2021, which will outline what each programme will be offering, how this will support businesses and boost skills and how to get involved and access the service.
The webinar on Thursday 27th May 2021 at 9am is open to all, to hear directly from the programme providers. You can sign up to attend here.
SELEP Chair Christian Brodie said:
“SELEP has a track record of managing funds and getting the money to the right people and places in the South East, for projects and schemes that boost the economy and help residents. We are delighted that we can now put that experience to good use with our own £4.4m COVID-19 Recovery programme.
“This money has been divided into pots to target the areas in the South East that truly need this additional support such as the Visitor economy —both because of the pandemic and to stay on top of high growth levels that are being experienced in some sectors, including digital.”
For businesses seeking support outside these programmes, the South East Business Hub can help provide free business advice and guidance. Head to www.southeastbusiness.org.uk.