The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is changing its grant schemes for businesses to help more firms grow in an inclusive way which benefits workers, the environment and the wider community.
From this month, businesses applying for grants of £25,000 or above will have to sign up to the LEP’s inclusive growth commitments – a key part of its vision to create an economy that works for everyone.
The commitments include developing skills and training plans for low-paid staff, offering sustainable travel options, reducing energy consumption, paying the Real Living Wage or above and working with local schools and colleges.
Those firms applying for less than £25,000 will be encouraged to voluntarily commit to one or more criteria with support from the LEP.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, said: “Achieving inclusive growth where the benefits of a strong economy are felt by everyone is fundamental to our work as a LEP.
“The positive response from business to our new inclusive growth criteria is an encouraging sign that companies in our region share this commitment.
“This is a great example of the difference the LEP is making as a public-private partnership – using taxpayer investment to help companies in the region grow in a way that has a positive impact on the people who work here and the communities where they live.”
Previously, businesses applying for grants of £50,000 or above had to sign up to the inclusive growth commitments. The most popular options chosen by those firms were developing a skills plan for employees (21%), conducting an audit of energy use (18%) and promoting sustainable ways to travel to and from work (13%).
Cllr Shabir Pandor, Chair of the Combined Authority’s Inclusive Growth and Public Policy Panel and Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “As the key employers in our region, businesses have a critical role to play in ensuring everyone in our region has the opportunity of a good job, with good pay and a great quality of life.
“What we’re seeing here is a very positive move in the right direction but there is still more to do so I’d encourage all small and medium sized businesses out there to get in touch and see what support is on offer.”
The LEP’s commitment to creating inclusive growth will be further cemented in the Local Industrial Strategy which is currently in development. This strategy will focus on closing the region’s productivity gap while also supporting inclusive and clean growth.
Roger Marsh OBE added: “We can transform the Leeds City Region economy for the benefit of everyone and play our full part in driving national competitiveness. But it’s vital that we respond to the challenges we face such as the UK’s productivity crisis, changes to the labour market which are limiting people’s economic prospects and the implications of Brexit.”
“If we can bring our region’s productivity in line with the national average, through business investment in skills, R&D and innovation, we can add £10 billion to our economy, which would mean more opportunities for businesses and more jobs for local people.
“As a LEP and Combined Authority, we are clear that this extraordinary economic growth must go hand in hand with a commitment to ensuring that everyone in our region benefits from it.”
For more information on grants and support available to businesses in the Leeds City Region visit;
www.the-lep.com/business or call the LEP Growth Service on 0113 3481818.