It is not often that an accountant gets his fees paid by someone other than his client. But this prospect has been raised by a new funding scheme for SMEs which has been announced by the government. £20 million worth of funding has been allocated to local Growth Hubs within their Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). There are 38 LEPs covering England - some of these LEPs overlapping in some parts of the country.
The funding can be used to make small grants to:
- help businesses access specialist professional advice e.g. human resources, accountants, legal, financial, IT / digital
- purchase minor equipment to adapt or adopt new technology in order to continue to deliver business activity or diversify.
The grant must ‘directly respond to the impact of COVID-19’.
The underlying documentation we have from the government ministry is lacking in detail but does state that the nature and value of grants awarded will be tailored to local circumstances and will typically be up to £3,000. It will be up to the local Growth Hubs to put flesh on the bones of the type of professional advice that will be supported. The funding should be available to help all SMEs in all sectors.
The £20 million funding has already been allocated to the LEPs with each area obtaining a minimum of £250,000. Details of the allocations can be found here
It would seem a good idea for accountants to make contact with the Local Growth Hub(s) where their clients are based to find out what type of support is forthcoming. Contacts details can be found here. And get your skates on. The funding is being provided to address immediate needs and all grants must be awarded by 28 February 2021 and all activity fully completed by 31 March 2021.