Small businesses in Coventry urged to apply for new government grants

A new grant is targeted at helping small businesses in the tourism industry adapt to the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19.

Laptop, coffee cup, smartphone and notepad on wooden desk

Small businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire hit by COVID-19 can apply for new grants from the government to boost their recovery.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), alongside Coventry City Council, is distributing £312,000 from the government’s £20 million scheme.

SMEs with fewer than 250 employees can apply for grants between £1,000 and £5,000 to help them access new technology and other equipment as well as professional, legal, financial or other advice to help them get back on track. 

The CWLEP Growth Hub and Coventry City Council are also administering £188,000 granted as part of the government’s £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package, which will give small businesses in the tourism industry similar grants to help them adapt their businesses under COVID-19.

Companies can use the funding to pay for specialist advice such as human resources, legal or financial expertise, adopt new technology and online systems, and in certain cases purchase minor equipment. 

Both schemes are being fully funded by the government from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the support packages were an opportunity for SMEs to rebuild their businesses following the devastating impact of the pandemic.

“These grant programmes have been launched to help small businesses take steps forward in their revival which, in turn, will boost the area’s economy”, he said.

“The grants are an ideal chance to seek specialist professional help in a wide range of areas from digital to health and safety, or to buy minor equipment, to enable SMEs to diversify and adapt to aid their recovery.

“The Kick-starting Tourism Package is aimed at communities which depend on tourism which in Coventry and Warwickshire affects many SMEs.

“Towns such as Stratford-upon-Avon have been among the worst hit in England because of a significant fall in tourist and visitor numbers since lockdown started in March.

“We would like to allocate the grants as soon as possible to hand out the funds to SMEs quickly so when the application process starts at the end of this month, I would encourage business owners to apply because we predict this funding will support 200 SMEs within Coventry and Warwickshire.

“All the money will come from government and there is no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “We know that smaller businesses are likely to have been hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19 so having this cash and getting it to where it’s needed as quickly as possible is vitally important.

“Tourism plays a vital role in our economy and it supports many jobs for local people. But there is no doubt that this area of the economy needs urgent help. And it needs it now. 

“This cash will go some way towards helping – but it’s not enough so alongside getting this money out we are also lobbying for more so we can help as many businesses as possible to ensure they have a future.”

SMEs can apply for the grants online from the end of August at www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk.