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Chorley Business Investment for Growth guidance

What is the Chorley Business Investment for Growth (BIG) Grant?

The Chorley BIG grant is targeted to provide financial support for businesses that have been trading for over 6 months and have vision for growth and increasing employment levels.

What is the financial support for?

The Chorley BIG grant can be used for the construction of new buildings; the refurbishment/ adaptation of existing business premises; site engineering works; plant and equipment; signage; hard/soft landscaping and security improvements.

The BIG grant will provide financial support to expanding businesses in Chorley Borough and is provided to enable and support the creation of new jobs.

Am I eligible for support?

The funds will support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who are planning to invest in the range of activities detailed above. An SME is a company which employs fewer than 250 persons (full time equivalent), and has a turnover of less than 50 million Euros and/or has an annual balance sheet of less than 43 million Euros. No more than 25% of the company's capital or voting rights may be held by a parent company which is not itself an SME.

In order to comply with EU state aid regulations Chorley Council is unable to provide financial support to companies in the transport sector, or those involved in the production of agricultural equipment.

Please note: An offer of grant assistance from the Chorley BIG scheme must be in place before you commence or pay for any works that you require grant funding for. The BIG grant is not available retrospectively to fund work which has already been carried out and/or paid for.

Is this state aid?

Yes. The BIG grant uses public money, and therefore constitutes state aid as defined in the European Commission regulations. It will be given to SMEs under the EU de minimus rules. This means that an SME can receive up to 200,000 Euros of state aid over a rolling three year period. More information on state aid. You will be required to provide details of any state aid received during the last three years on the grant application form.

Duration of scheme

The scheme is open from 1st April 2013.

Funds will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and are subject to availability and eligibility.

We would recommend that you speak to one of the Council's Business Engagement Officers in advance to ensure funds are still available.

How much can I apply for?

The award of financial assistance is discretionary and will be dependent on the quality of the project and the outputs it delivers. An appraisal panel appointed by the Council will assess applications against a range of economic criteria relevant to the application. The economic criteria considered are:

  • floorspace improved/ created (sq ft)
  • no of jobs created - this should be an increase in the total jobs within your business
  • no of jobs accessed by a Chorley resident in the Borough
  • private sector investment
  • businesses supported by sector

Businesses can apply for 50% of total eligible project costs and claim up to a maximum of £10,000 to invest in the range of activities detailed in this document.

Application to, and receipt of funding from, the Chorley BIG grant does not exclude the businesses from applying to and receiving funds from other grant and loan schemes up to the relevant state aid threshold.

Sources of 'top up' funding?

Businesses operating in the business-to-business (B2B) sector can obtain free and impartial support for raising finance from Access to Finance.

Sources of 'top-up' funding include:

Are there any standard conditions to receiving the grant

Grant assistance is subject to receiving a satisfactory business plan and cashflow forecast that demonstrates the viability and future sustainability of the business.

There must not be any environmental health, business rate enforcement or legal issues outstanding with Chorley Council at the time of the grant application.

Grant assistance is conditional on the applicant checking whether any statutory permissions are required for the work being undertaken.

Successful applicants who are within the digital of creative sector, will also be required to participate in the free Digital Creative programme, delivered by Chorley Council. The Digital Creative programme provides Lancashire based start-ups and SMEs in the digital or creative sectors, who operate on a business-to-business basis, up to 12 hours free support to start/grow your business. Digital Creative is subject to availability and eligibility.

Successful applicants will also be required to be involved in joint publicity to promote the BIG scheme. This could include participation in photo opportunities, the preparation of press releases and case studies.

What are the Community Repayment requirements?

Chorley Council requires grant recipients to deliver economic and community outputs in return for receiving this funding.

In addition to the creation of new job opportunities within the grant applicant's business and other economic criteria (listed above in the 'how much can I apply for' section) the second area of output sees grant recipients being asked to carry out 'Community Repayment' activities to a percentage of the value of the grant they receive.

Activities must be delivered to registered Charities or Social Enterprises based within the Borough of Chorley, or to the local community in which they reside.

The amount of community repayment to be carried out is based on 1 working day for every £2,000 received of the grant. For instance, if a grant is awarded of £10,000, the business is asked to deliver 5 full working days to the community. However, if the grant award is £5,000, 2.5 full working days to the community are required. A donation of goods to a similar value of the time involved or equivalent may be considered.

The spirit of the community repayment scheme is to create links between businesses and Charities/Social Enterprises, or the wider community in Chorley with the aim of supporting, empowering and enhancing this sector. This opportunity also provides grant recipients with the opportunity to enhance their Corporate Social Responsibility activities.

All community repayment activities must be agreed with Chorley Council staff in advance of being carried out for the recipient. Any work carried out in advance of agreement will not be considered towards this output. Chorley Council will have no liability within this arrangement.

Monitoring

The Council is required to monitor the economic assets of the grant scheme, e.g. the creation of jobs, and will require successful applicants to provide evidence of the delivery of original Chorley BIG grant application outputs to enable payment of the grant and for the lifetime of the project.

How do I apply?

In the first instance please contact the Council's Business Engagement team to discuss your potential application on 01257 515300 or email edu@chorley.gov.uk.

You will receive guidance on the grant application process, which will include when and how to submit the grant application form, which will also involve sending:

  • a copy of your business plan
  • a three-year cash flow forecast
  • a copy of your accounts from the previous 3 financial years (where relevant)

Note:If your end of year accounts are due for submission to Companies House, or are to be produced for your own purposes within a month of making this application, you will be required to supply these accounts either as draft accounts, or provide these as soon as finalised, so they can be considered as part of your application.

  • confirmation of a submitted application for building regulations, planning permission or advertising consent (if applicable)
  • copies of consents if already approved e.g. planning permission, building regulations or advertising consent (if applicable)
  • landlord's permission to undertake the works or if you are the landlord, a letter or email confirming this
  • evidence of 'top-up' funding required (e.g. bank statement or letter from bank)
  • three written quotes for the works

What happens next?

One of the Council's Business Engagement Officers will submit an application in principle on your behalf to the grant panel, providing the Council's Business Engagement team understand you meet the eligibility criteria. The panel meetings occur on a fortnightly basis and your initial application will be declined or approved in principle. If your application is approved in principle, you are then required to submit a completed application form and supporting documentation which the Council's Business Engagement Officers can support you with. Please note, from the date of your application being approved in principle, you have 12 weeks to submit your full  application and compliant supporting documentation. If this is not provided within 12 weeks the grant allocation will be removed from the database. The applicant may however request an extension to the timescales via the Council's Business Engagement team (see footer for contact details). Extensions are at the discretion of the Council's Business Engagement team and should be agreed before the deadline to avoid you losing your grant allocation in principle.

Following receipt of a completed application form and compliant supporting documentation, a decision will be made by the grant panel within 4-6 weeks.

The Council's Business Engagement team will contact you in relation to your application and, if successful, will provide you with a formal offer of grant assistance, subject to a '5 Day Call In Period' where the grant panel decision is open to scrutiny by Councillors. Therefore, it is at your own financial risk if you commence work before the 'Call In Period' has ended. Once you have received this formal offer you are able to commence with the works for which you have applied for funding from the Strawberry Fields Digital Hub grant. Any work carried out or paid for prior to the date of your grant offer letter will be deemed ineligible.

Payment of grant

The grant is paid on defrayed expenditure i.e. grants will be paid to a business once:

  • all works have been completed or equipment purchased to the satisfaction of the Council's Business Engagement team
  • the Council has inspected the original contractor's invoices and proof of applicant's payment of contractor's invoice
  • evidence of jobs created is provided

From the date of the offer letter the timescale for claiming the grant is:

  • 3 months for plant and machinery
  • 6 months for building works

Extensions to timescales are available but should be agreed with Council Officers before the deadlines above to avoid you losing your grant allocation.

If a business completes the works/ purchases agreed to be funded and creates and fills the jobs at the same time, then these parts of the grant will be paid at this point in time.

Chorley Council realises that jobs may not be created, and filled, for a period after the works are carried out. Therefore, applicants are allowed up to twelve months from the date of the panel decision to fill their vacancies.

Similarly, due to the nature of the Community Repayment Scheme, with activities potentially taking place over a longer timeframe, up to 12 months is also allowed to deliver this activity from the date of the panel decision.

If any elements of the grant scheme (investment, jobs created or community repayment) are not carried out in these timescales no further grant payments will be made.

In these circumstances Chorley Council will pay out the grant in the following phases;

  • 40% paid on physical completion of the eligible works/ purchases
  • 30% paid when evidence of the jobs created has been provided
  • 30% paid when community payback activities are completed

Once payment is agreed with the Council's Business Engagement team, grants will be paid within 30 days.

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