Why regional grants & funding are not regional
I was talking with the British Business Bank the other week when I made a flippant comment about there being a lack of business funding and business grant support schemes in the South East. I am well aware of the regional delivery of these schemes, with the South East often being short-changed.
I fully get the aims and objectives of delivering these schemes regionally, however having looked at things further and had a more in-depth conversation it became apparent that the term ‘regional’ is very, very vague.
In many ways, it can discourage businesses from applying for grant support when they may be perfectly able to apply.
Let me expand.
Where is Luton?
In my mind Luton is the last stop on the train that takes me from Gatwick into Blackfriars or Farringdon, it is another exit on the Southern end of the M1. However, when it comes to regional business grant & funding schemes Luton is actually in the Midlands.
If that isn’t strange then consider that with Luton being the southern end of the Midlands, Grimsby is the northern end of the Midlands.
What this means is that companies who are registered or have a head office somewhere between Luton and Grimsby are eligible to apply for the support available to Midlands companies. Strange eh?
It is one of the reasons why I encourage companies to look carefully at the regional restrictions of these schemes as it is often not the barrier you think it is.
Head office or registered address
This one is almost as ambiguous as to where the Midlands is. The majority of SME companies have a registered address different from their primary trading address. For multiple site companies, the head office or registered address is often somewhere different from where you would consider yourself to be based.
The point is that when it comes to applying for grant or funding schemes then it is well worth looking outside of where you think your geographical area is. Look at the wider options, look at neighbouring areas, look at local councils not just where you think you are based.
A little creativity can go a long way, Remember that the providers of these schemes are targeted to assist businesses, so put yourself in the best position, whether that be Luton or Grimsby.
By Dave Farmer