Agenda item

PMP Economic Development/Inward Investment update

To provide an update to Performance Monitoring Panel on current work being undertaken to support the South Holland economy (report of the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Portfolio Holder for Growth and Commercialisation enclosed).

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Portfolio Holder for Growth and Commercialisation which provided an update to the Panel on current work being undertaken to support the South Holland economy.

 

The Inward Investment Manager gave an update on this item, and the following points were covered:

 

  • The team had been focused on the distribution of government grants for businesses, including the small business grant and the retail, hospitality and leisure grant, which closed for applications at the end of August 2020, and were processed until the end of September 2020.
  • In total 1,654 businesses had received a share of £18.5m in government grant money.
  • The next round of funding was the local restrictions support grant (closed), designed to support businesses who were mandated to close as a result of government guidelines, and was based on the rateable value of the business. £3.8m has now been distributed via this grant.
  • The local restrictions support grant (open) had been announced for businesses that were not mandated to close, for which 197 applications had been received. These applications were currently being worked through and they would be paid within a few days.
  • There would be a further scheme of grants for businesses mandated to close under the lockdown effective from 5 January 2021
  • Grants4growth had continued to deliver its outputs on budget and on time.
  • Contact has been established with the office of the Department for International Trade in the Netherlands, and the team were working closely with them to promote Lincolnshire through a Food Manufacturing Automation and Robotics High Potential Opportunity.
  • Work was also being carried out with a number of local business expansions, mainly based in the agri-food sector.

 

The Panel considered the report, and the following issues were raised:

 

  • Members commented on how easy it had been to direct residents to the appropriate individuals for help with applying for grants and ensuring all grants were paid out as quickly and efficiently as possible, and thanked the team for their efforts.

 

  • Members questioned whether officers were confident that resources were adequate to maximise all of the opportunities that were being offered as part of the High Potential Opportunity scheme.
    • Officers responded that the High Potential Opportunity was a Lincolnshire-wide project, but that it was based primarily in the south of Lincolnshire, in Spalding and South Holland.
    • Officers were contributing to a presentation that would promote Lincolnshire business opportunities across the world.
    • In order to put the presentation together, resources were being utilised from the University of Lincoln, Lincolnshire County Council, the Department of International Trade, and experts in the field.

 

  • Members asked if there was anything that the authority could do further to improve the service of the department, both in helping businesses to recover and to attract new businesses to the district.
    • Officers replied that as the response phase of helping businesses in need to access grants came to an end, swift action was required to put in place assistance to help businesses and the economy to recover. The government had given the Authority a time-limited budget for which officers explained half was for helping business needs at the present time, and the other half was for helping businesses to recover in the future.

 

  • Members questioned if the department was still engaging with young people in the district to help them develop the skills needed for businesses in the district.
    • Officers responded that there were a lot of people who were currently furloughed, that may become unemployed when the furlough scheme ended in April 2021. Conversations were being had with local colleges to make sure that skills that were being taught were those needed for businesses in the area.

 

  • Members asked for further information about the percentage of people who were already receiving benefits but were now also receiving Universal Credit.
    • Officers responded that Universal Credit figures were not straightforward, as they contained more than one reason as to why people were accessing Universal Credit. Some of the figures included individuals who, although still employed, were furloughed, and their income had fallen into the threshold for claiming Universal Credit - this explained why the numbers had increased.
    • The latest figures would be circulated to all members when they became available.
    • Officers confirmed that the Regional Manager for DWP, had offered to attend a future meeting of the Panel to explain Universal Credit, and other projects that the DWP were currently working on.

 

  • Members asked how many applications had been received for the Discretionary Grant that applied to businesses that did not pay business rates, but paid service charges.
    • Officers confirmed that 197 businesses had applied for this grant and it was hoped that some businesses that did not pay business rates would be assisted within those applications.

 

  • Members queried whether there was a small fund identified to help businesses that were not mandated to close by government guidelines.
    • Officers explained that the government had committed to covering 100% of the costs of grants paid out to businesses that were mandated to close. For other businesses, a sum of money has been given to cover support over the next 18 months. A total of £2.7m had been allocated to the authority to use to help businesses that were not mandated to close.

 

  • Members asked whether businesses that had applied for funding previously would have to apply again, following the latest lockdown.
    • Officers confirmed that businesses would not need to apply a second time, and that their first application would be sufficient.

 

  • Members asked for an update on the work of the Business and Economy subgroup of the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum.
    • Officers explained that the group had been set up to allow district councils across Lincolnshire, and the County Council, to feed into it.  It was used to share intelligence across the county, and as a forum for a county-wide strategy for economic recovery. The group also enabled government funding to be secured for the Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone.

 

AGREED:

 

That the report be noted.

Supporting documents: