Authority gives go-ahead for £5m fund for flood hit businesses

The big clean-up continues in Hebden Bridge, after the Boxing Day floods, 2015

The big clean-up continues in Hebden Bridge, after the Boxing Day floods, 2015

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West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee has endorsed a £5m fund to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across Leeds City Region recover from the effects of recent flooding.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Committee supported a recommendation to invest £5m from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal allocation to establish a 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 their meeting on 4 February.

The new fund will be managed by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Councillor David Green, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee and Leader of Bradford Council said: “The funding approved today 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.

“With an initial assessment on the impact of the flooding on the regional economy suggesting the long term damage could be as much as £365m, it is clear we need government to work with us to achieve long term solutions that will prevent these destructive deluges and stop the idea of a Northern Powerhouse being overwhelmed.

“Over 2,000 Leeds City Region businesses thought to be affected by the recent flooding, so we are expecting a high volume of applications to the new Business Flood Recovery Fund, but we will turn them around as quickly as possible on a case by case basis.”

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.

Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the LEP and deputy chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee said: “This funding is for those businesses that require the highest level of investment to get back towards operating at full capacity. Having visited some of the affected businesses in Calderdale myself, I know how vital this long-term investment is to return to the same level of trade as quickly as possible.

“The devastation of the flood is not going to be fixed overnight. However this funding will complement the initial rapid response support from our partner councils to address the longer term issues and costs businesses face in returning to full operation and alleviate any further impact on business growth.”

“This funding is for those businesses that require the highest level of investment to get back to operating at full capacity again. Having visited some of the affected businesses in Calderdale myself, I know how vital this long term investment is to return to normal trade as quickly as possible and safeguard jobs for local people.

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.