Flood-hit firms in York and West Yorkshire can share in £5m ‘bail-out’ fund

Businesses can benefit from a share of a £5million flood fund endorsed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee.

The fund will help SMEs across York and the Leeds City Region to recover from the effects of recent flooding.

This week’s meeting of the Committee supported a recommendation to invest £5m from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal allocation to establish the Business Flood Recovery Fund. An initial £1.4m will be made available, with the full £5m awaiting final approval by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Board at its meeting on Thursday 4th February. The new fund will be managed by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

Cllr Chris Steward, Leader of City of York Council, said: “This fund will go a long way to helping businesses get back on their feet. It will provide even more support on top of the £70,000 in grants we’ve already paid to businesses here in York, and is in addition to ensuring many are exempt from paying businesses rates which so far is at the value of over £400,000.

“This is about supporting local businesses with the long-term recovery by enabling them to resume trading, safeguarding jobs for local people and re-establishing supply lines to meet their customers’ requirements.”

Cllr Keith Aspden, Deputy Leader of City of York Council with responsibility for Economic Development, said: “The devastation of the flood is not going to be fixed overnight. However this funding will complement the initial rapid response support we’re providing in York to address the longer term issues and costs businesses face in returning to full operation and alleviate any further impact on business growth.”

The Business Flood Recovery Fund is expected to be in place by next week with grants of between £5,000 and £100,000 available. The fund could support SMEs with critical capital investment requirements such as new equipment or hire costs for machinery and premises required to recommence or maintain their operations.  It could also go towards implementing internal flood resilience measures such as building a mezzanine floor to move business critical equipment to a higher point. Each application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and will need to be accompanied by a detailed flood recovery plan.

Support will be provided by the LEP’s growth managers, local authorities, Chambers of Commerce and the Manufacturing Advisory Service to help eligible businesses develop the plans and ensure business continuity over the long term.

The fund will operate under the same guidelines as the existing LEP grant funding scheme currently supporting SMEs to grow in Leeds City Region. To be eligible for funding, businesses must be an SME and from one of the LEP’s priority sectors; manufacturing, food and drink, low carbon and environmental, financial and professional services, health and life sciences and digital and creative – although discretion will apply.

The application form will be available from the LEP next week and via local authority growth managers across the region. The LEP has a package of support available to businesses looking to grow and find support to help them realise their full potential. Support for business grants and loans, skills advice, apprenticeships and export are all available through the LEP and businesses are encouraged to get in touch by calling 0113 348 1818 or emailing businessgrowth@the-lep.com to find out more.

Further information about the support available to flood affected businesses can be found at www.the-lep.com/floodsupport.

By supporting the Business Flood Recovery Fund, West Yorkshire Combined Authority is building on the existing support provided by government of up to £7,500 that has been made available to SMEs in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire to help companies with the immediate clean-up effort and flood resilience.