Funded business support
London Borough of Bexley has secured £1.3m worth of direct funding through the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). The fund sits under the government’s Levelling Up Agenda and aims to make improvements to town centres & high streets and support local businesses.
We’re using the funds to help achieve aims set out in our Corporate Plan, such as improving community facilities and creating a thriving local business economy.
Supporting Local Businesses
To help prepare the design and delivery of business support, the Bexley Business & Employment (BBE) team carried out a survey of the business community to gain an understanding of what their key needs are, ensuring programmes are designed to deliver meaningful and effective outcomes for local businesses. A total of 255 business responded to the survey undertaken in Spring 2023.
These responses helped inform the plan that will deliver support to over 500 small, local businesses during the course of the programme, running to March 2025.
Delivered through our newly developed Talking Business brand and administered by the BBE team, here is a summary of how we are using the funding in Bexley meaning the following support, totalling £348,000, is provided free of charge to local, eligible businesses (less than 250 employees).
Retail & Hospitality sector advice service
We recognise that businesses operating in the retail and hospitality sector face particular challenges on a number of fronts including recovery from the Covid pandemic, changing shopping habits and of course the rise in costs of doing business. These businesses play a vital role in making Bexley a brilliant place to live and work.
We have commissioned Retail Revival, a specialist organisation to provide direct support to restaurants, shops, pubs, cafes, and retail service businesses such as hair salons and travel agents who seek help to improve their attractiveness to local residents. This will be in the form of advice, guidance and signposting specific to the needs of each business owner.
Business Support Advisor - all industries
Each business is unique, and we want to tailor support accordingly. By employing our very own locally based advisor, we will provide 1-2-1 advice and guidance to help our small businesses succeed. Whether this is helping them get more out of social media, seeking new premises or reducing operating costs, we want to treat each business as an individual.
All industry sectors can apply for support, including car garages, tradespeople, personal trainers, and fashion designers – from 1 person enterprises up to businesses employing 249 staff. The advisor can support businesses both with a physical presence as well as those working from home.
We are now offering a full diagnostic service where we learn about the challenges and opportunities and carefully guide business owners, providing direct support or referring them to appropriate support programmes to help their enterprise grow.
Business Support - all industries
Delivered by our partners CNT Associates, a programme of general business support will be made available through a series of online webinars, face to face networking group sessions and 1-2-1 interventions to help create ‘good growth’ for small businesses across the borough.
Advice will be provided covering a range of subjects such as financing, online stores, digital marketing, brand development and support for women-led business designed to help them grow, create new jobs as well as becoming more resilient for the future.
Small grants for licensing/qualifications to upskill staff
In addition to the non-financial support available, we are making provision for a small number of match funded grants to help businesses with the cost of upskilling their staff to achieve higher wages and become more valuable to their organisation. Applications will be invited from businesses seeking contributions towards training or qualifications for new and existing staff to a maximum value of £500 where the business will contribute half the cost.
Whether it is for first aid training, fork-lift driver license or health and safety certifications, we will help make it more affordable for the business to recruit new staff and develop the skills of their workforce.
Hosted at Bexley’s very own business innovation centre, The Engine House, we will be delivering a programme specifically designed to help newly established and pre-start entrepreneurs develop the skills and knowledge required to launch and run a successful business. This programme will help founders create a business plan and develop confidence as well as providing practical guidance on registering a business, sales & marketing, regulatory requirements, and financing.
The programme is launching over the next few weeks starting with the business support delivered by CNT Associates and the training grants delivered by our in-house BBE team.
To enquire about any of the above support, please complete our business support enquiry form.