Motorway at night


Grant schemes close to expressions of interest

***UPDATE, 7/9/20: Due to the huge volume of enquiries, these schemes have closed to expressions of interest. If you have applied, please be patient while we process your application.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can now apply for new grants to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

We’re administering two schemes, one for specifically for tourism businesses and the other open to all sectors.

Businesses can apply for grants from £1,000 to £5,000 to cover the cost of buying-in specialist advice to address their immediate needs in response to Covid 19.

They must be able to demonstrate a 40 per cent loss of income, caused by the pandemic, between March and June compared with the same period in 2019.

Suzanne CaldwellSuzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “This is a great opportunity to help some of the smaller businesses in the county that have been hit hardest under lockdown.

“I’d urge them to act quickly though. There is a finite pot of money and it’s a very much a case of first come, first served. We’ve had more than 700 enquiries about the grants in the first week.

“I’d also ask businesses that have benefited from previous Growth Hub funding to think carefully before applying because there are many other businesses that haven’t, until now, been able to access Growth Hub funding.”

To start the application process, businesses should email

We can assign a Growth Hub adviser to help with the application process.

Suzanne added: “While the maximum grant is £5,000, we expect most to be in the range £1,000 and £3,000.”

Businesses can use the grants to buy in a wide spectrum of specialist advice including HR, accountancy, legal, financial, health and safety, IT/digital and sector-related consultancy.

Visitor economy businesses can also apply for grants to boost productivity through digital tools, such as yield-management software, mentoring, networking or other measures.

And they can get grants to adapt to social distancing, for example new ways to deliver cultural events and festivals, or to buy equipment to help them continue to deliver business activity or diversify in response to Covid-19.

Businesses are required to secure three quotes from potential providers but don’t have to choose the cheapest.

Unlike the coronavirus small business and retail/hospitality/leisure grants, which were taxable, the new grants are not treated as income for tax purposes.

Recent start-ups, which may not have trading figures from last year to show they suffered a 40 per cent loss of income, will be able to compare against forecast income instead. The same applies to businesses on high-growth trajectories.

The tourism grants come from the £10m Kick-starting Tourism package announced last month. Ministers later announced a further £20m to help SMEs in other sectors.

The money is drawn from the European Regional Development Fund.

These two grant schemes are receiving up to £818,872 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.  Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information click here.