Staffordshire County Council is to invest £860,000 into schemes with Stafford Borough Council to help support programmes to assist businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Express and Star report that the Staffordshire Means Back to Business support programmes include an investment to fund wages for 500 apprentices, a training top-up fund for businesses to upskill their employees and a grants scheme to enable small businesses to thrive.
The scheme also includes a loan scheme for people who want to set up their own business and have completed the online start-up training course, as well as more funding to support entrepreneurs currently in further education to help get their businesses off the ground.
The county council is investing £860,000 into the schemes across the county with the Borough Council supporting programmes to help businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The investment will add to the support already being offered by Stafford Borough Council and the County Council, as well as funding from a range of other organisations.
Councillor Frances Beatty, Cabinet member for Economic Development and Planning at the Borough Council, said: “We want to make sure our local businesses are able to grow as we come out of this pandemic and this latest programme builds on the extensive support we have been providing to many of them over the last 12 months.
“We have distributed more than £35 million to businesses who have been hardest hit because of Covid-19 restrictions.”
She added that the council recently launch a raft of schemes to help SMEs, including financial help for taxi drivers and a joint initiative with the Federation of Small Businesses to provide help for micro-businesses in the borough.
She said it was another great example of partnership working across the authorities focussing on businesses bouncing back after the lockdown, and taking advantage of the opportunities as they evolve.
The Staffordshire 500, Apprentices Wage Support programme could see the creation of up to 500 apprentices.
It will provide incentives for employers to take on 16 to 24-year-olds by contributing to the costs associated with the recruitment and retention of apprentices.
Businesses are also being offered support to upskill their employees or train new staff in accordance with their changing business operations or entering new markets through the Free Training Top-up Project with grants of up to £5,000 provided and matched through other funding sources.
Philip White, Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “It is critical that as a county council we continue to prioritise support for small businesses and people whose jobs or employment prospects have been impacted by the pandemic.
“We owe it to businesses and communities to direct all available funding where it is needed most, and vitally to make it accessible as soon as possible.”
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