Great news. The North East Business Support Fund has been extended through to March 2023 and is open again for applications. NBSL have been able to secure further investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to the value of £1.6m to support 730 businesses. We’re delighted to report that John Atkinson of NBSL has recorded a podcast for DBN about the Support Fund which gives lots of helpful advice and tips on how to ensure you get your grant application right first time, what information is needed, eligibility criteria, project timescales and length of time for payments.
As grant schemes across the North East continue to emerge to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID, we’ve been speaking to John Atkinson, one of our most experienced business advisors to outline some of the few basic principles to make the sourcing and application for grant aid as easy and successful as possible.
John confirms that each scheme has a set of criteria that an applicant will be expected to meet therefore recommends that potential applicants read the guidelines for the fund before applying.
Some schemes will support capital purchases, others revenue only (this is where you use the services of a consultant or specialist for a defined piece of work) and some will support both. John suggests the following four points to remember:
- Have a clear plan for what you are wanting help with, how long it will take to complete and how much it is going to cost. Some schemes will ask for 3 quotes to demonstrate value for money.
- Answer all the questions on the application form. They are there to help check your eligibility for the fund and to understand the likely impact of the project on your business. Missing out information will delay your application.
- Allow plenty of time to apply before you want to start your project. The larger the grant you are seeking, the longer it is likely to take to get a decision. Some schemes may have a 2 stage process where you submit an expression of interest and then, once accepted, you submit a full application.
- Do not start any work or pay anyone until you have signed a contract for your project. By all means have a conversation with your provider to establish dates to carry out the work but pay nothing. This is a deal-breaker.
Once you have the contract in place, get the work underway. If for any reason there is a delay in getting the work done and you are not going to complete within the timescales in your contract, contact your grant body to discuss any potential extension that they could offer. Do not leave it until the last week of your contract - you could end up losing the funding.
Post project when you have claimed your money, you will be asked for evidence of the impact of the project on your business. This is vital information for funding bodies to be able to justify their work. Not supplying this information risks the loss of future grant funding.
Most importantly, John recommends that you ask questions - especially if you don’t understand anything and keep to your deadlines - your funding may depend on it and especially with any COVID related grant funding.
John warns that if your grant is not evidenced and claimed in the timeline agreed - you could lose the funding -something none of us want!
- REMEMBER YOUR DEADLINES
- IF YOU FINISH YOUR PROJECT PRIOR TO OUR DEADLINES - SPEAK TO YOUR ADVISOR OR ASSESSOR - YOU MAY EVEN BE ABLE TO CLAIM EARLY
- REMEMBER TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF YOUR WORK – INCLUDING INVOICES RECEIVED - GRANT FUNDING BODIES NEED TO HAVE PROOF OF WORK
The North East Business Support Fund is now live for applications and more information on grants available for Durham businesses can be found here.