West Cheshire Business Support Programme

Cheshire West and Chester Council has been awarded a further allocation of Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) by Government to help businesses to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help rebuild the local economy.

This funding can be used to continue to support businesses still impacted by the pandemic through an Extended Restriction Grant (this grant closed on the 1 November 2021).  The funding can also be used to provide wider business support activities and the council has now secured delivery partners, West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce and Blue Orchid, to help design and deliver direct grants and wider business support. 

West Cheshire Business Support Programme 

Programme flyer 

Rebel Business School

Online programme being delivered 17-28 January 2022: if you’re unemployed and looking for the right path, been working on your own business for years, or are already established and want to find out how to become adaptable, the Rebel Business School provides an alternative method to help you to take action and make it happen. 

Visit the Rebel website for more information and a link to register. 

Start up and scale up programme

 A range of support and investment funding to support new businesses to launch and SME businesses to recover and grow, which could include funding for "pop up" retail opportunities or explore short term subsidy of commercial rent for new premises (for a specified time)

Project overview, eligibility criteria and application process in the links below.

Training and Skills programme

Aimed at supporting businesses with their expansion through skills development and assist with recruitment challenges particularly in the hospitality, health and social care, leisure, manufacturing, and digital sectors

Project overview, eligibility criteria and application process in the links below.

Investor fund

Aimed at supporting existing high growth businesses to expedite their growth plans and investment decisions and work with businesses looking to locate in the borough

Project overview, eligibility criteria and application process in the links below.

 

Mix of support aimed at: 
  • Supporting new businesses to launch and develop
  • Working with existing businesses, helping with growth plans, and building resilience
  • Inspiring and motivating young people to consider self-employment, become our future entrepreneurs
  • Empowering people to take practical actions to start their own business

 

The Programme will support businesses across all sectors with a focus on:
  • People and businesses in deprived areas
  • Businesses in rural locations
  • Young entrepreneurs
  • Social enterprises and budding social entrepreneurs
  • Women in business
  • Reduction of carbon footprint
  • Social inclusion: including skills development, recruiting staff locally and building stronger local supply chains

 

 

Investor Fund

Investor Fund Programme Overview & Eligibility Criteria

Businesses can find out more and check their eligibility by emailing info@blueorchid.co.uk. 

The aim of the Cheshire West & Chester Investor Fund is to support a small number of Cheshire West & Chester business that have identified opportunities to recover their business from the impact of Covid through new growth opportunities. 

The grants provided by the programme are intended to support businesses to grow and create new jobs within the Cheshire West & Chester local authority area and your grant application will be assessed on the positive impacts forecast within your application. 

Grants are available to support up to 80% of the costs for business to invest in their business through projects which include capital investment, consultancy support or both. Examples of the potential grant applications include; 

  • Marketing including Promotional Campaigns, Branding & Design Work, Marketing Materials, Marketing Strategies and Market Research, in order to engage customers, enter new markets and communicate new trading conditions
  • Business Management & Strategic planning consultancy including activities to support management teams in diversification into new sectors and markets, change management programmes & restructure
  • Product development & Process Management consultancy including advice and guidance on the development & production of new products, changes to production lines and facilities to support social distancing; sales, product specification and marketing to enter into new markets, etc.
  • Exporting & internationalisation consultancy, including market research, translation, sales and marketing advice, support with understanding & navigating regulatory requirements and market access
  • Digital Services including website development & build, e-commerce functions & electronic payments systems, mobile application development and targeting & entering new markets
  • Purchase & installation of new equipment to support improved productivity, adapt supply chains and develop/manufacture new products 
  • Purchase & installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure 
  • Internal adaptations (i.e., relocation of existing fixtures / fittings / services etc. to support revised or new utilisation of space to create new growth opportunities in line with social distancing or diversified uses of premises)  

 

Proposed projects must:

  • Support new activity & facilitate new growth
  • Not include expenditure that could reasonably be expected to be a cost of business e.g. replacement of worn items, ongoing costs such as tech support. 
  • All purchases for goods or services will be subject to an appropriate open tendering or quote process. 
  • Lead to the creation of additional new jobs within the business, projected to last at least 12 months 

 Projects which include Capital expenditure: 

  • The project cannot include multiple instances of the same/similar equipment e.g. laptops. 
  • The business must source 3 independent quotes for all equipment to be purchased as part of the project to ensure value for money is demonstrable. Grant value will be calculated on the lowest (reasonable) quote.  
  • Blue Orchid Enterprise Solutions Ltd reserves the right to reject quotations for expenditure following due diligence and monitoring/management of the public purse exercises


Projects which include Revenue expenditure:

  • Suppliers must be selected following an open tender procurement process delivered in line with Blue Orchids requirements. Advice & Guidance on procurement and tendering processes are included within the application process and are mandatory 
  • Blue Orchid Enterprise Solutions Ltd reserves the right to reject quotations of expenditure following due diligence and monitoring/management of the public purse exercises
  • The appointment of suppliers must be based on the evaluation of their written response to the procurement exercises. Where an interview element is used in the procurement Blue Orchid must be informed prior to the interview and provided with the option of joining the assessment panel. 


Grant applications will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Jobs Created – The fund is intended to support the creation of new jobs with the CWAC area
  • Unit Cost per Job – The grant value per job created must be no more than £7,000, e.g. A grant application for £21,000 would be expected to lead to the creation of 3 additional jobs
  • Turnover impact – Applications should include a forecast economic impact of the project and explanation of how this forecast was calculated 
  • Additionality –
  1. Demonstration that the impact of the project will be additional to the business as usual case
  2. Demonstration that growth is not merely displacement from local competitors 


The Grant may not be used for (This is NOT an exhaustive list):

  • Recurring revenue costs (including salaries, stock, rent utility charges, subscriptions, maintenance contracts)
  • Repaying existing loans or debt
  • Software licenses or replacing of existing systems – (i.e. one for one replacements)
  • Replacement/standard update of website
  • The reimbursement of goods/services purchased prior to the date of a Grant Offer letter
  • Solicitor fees
  • Consumables
  • Road vehicles
  • Accreditation, certification or assessment fees e.g. ISO.
  • Activities that may bring Blue Orchid Enterprise Solutions Ltd and its funding partners into disrepute
  • Any costs associated with statutory requirements – e.g., registering with statuary bodies such as the ICO

Start and Scale Up Grants

Start and Scale Up Programme Overview & Eligibility Criteria

Find out more and check eligibility by completing an online Expression of Interest form.

The aim of the Cheshire West & Chester Start and Scale Up Grants is to support a limited number of Cheshire West & Chester business that have identified opportunities to launch a new business or recover their business from the impact of Covid through new growth opportunities. 

Examples of how grant can be used:

  • Market testing of product/service
  • Marketing including Promotional Campaigns, Branding & Design Work, Marketing Materials, Marketing Strategies and Market Research, in order to engage customers, enter new markets and communicate new trading conditions
  • Product development 
  • Introducing new processes
  • Digital Services including website development & build, e-commerce functions & electronic payments systems, mobile application development and targeting & entering new markets
  • Purchase & installation of new equipment 
  • Premises – opportunity to fund “pop-up” retail opportunities or explore the short-term subsidy of commercial rent for new premises

The applicant must:  

  • Be based in or have premises within the CWAC LA area
  • Attend workshops and/or receive 121 support before completing business diagnostic to clearly evidence of how the grant will support their business to launch or develop and grow
  • Give consent to be involved in publicity of the overall programme where required
  • Agree to take part in any monitoring and produce relevant information/documentation as requested throughout the process e.g. invoices as most grants will be paid retrospectively 

Proposed projects must:

  • Support new activity & facilitate new growth
  • Not include expenditure that could reasonably be expected to be a cost of business e.g. replacement of worn items, ongoing costs such as tech support. 

Projects which include Capital expenditure: 

  • The project cannot include multiple instances of the same/similar equipment e.g. laptops
  • West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce reserves the right to reject quotations for expenditure following due diligence and monitoring/management of the public purse exercises

The Grant may not be used for (This is NOT an exhaustive list):

  • Recurring revenue costs (including salaries, stock, rent utility charges, subscriptions, maintenance contracts)
  • Repaying existing loans or debt
  • Software licenses or replacing of existing systems – (i.e. one for one replacements)
  • Minor technical updates of website
  • Solicitor fees
  • Accreditation, certification or assessment fees e.g. ISO.
  • Activities that may bring West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber and its funding partners into disrepute
  • Any costs associated with statutory requirements – e.g., registering with statuary bodies such as the ICO

 All grants and support have strict eligibility criteria including job creation.

Training and Skills Grant

Training and Skills Programme Overview & Eligibility Criteria

Find out more and check eligibility by completing an online Expression of Interest form.

The aim of the Cheshire West & Chester Training and Skills Grant is to support a small number of Cheshire West & Chester business with their expansion through skills development and assist with recruitment challenges particularly in the hospitality, health and social care, leisure, manufacturing, and digital sectors.

Examples of how grant can be used:

  1. Create and deliver in-house or short-term, accredited or non-accredited training which should be delivered over a 6-month period; business can procure a training provider or set up in-house training
  2. Expand workforce through skills development; must pay the National Minimum Wage or above
  3. Grant can be used to support one employee or split to support a number of employees; individual(s) receiving support must be employed for the full 6 months of the grant period
  4. Explore inclusive employment strategies to overcome recruitment shortfalls

The applicant must:  

  • Be based in or have premises within the CWAC Local Authority area
  • Give consent to be involved in publicity of the overall programme where required
  • Agree to take part in any monitoring and produce relevant information/documentation as requested throughout the process 

Proposed projects must:

  • Support new activity & facilitate new growth
  • Be delivered over 6-month period during which time the individual(s) in receipt of the support should be in continual employment.
  • Evidence of employment and structured training plan must be provided for individual(s) in receipt of the support; the total maximum grant payment is £7000 and will be split as follows:

o 20% after 2 weeks of start of project
o 30% after 5 weeks
o 50% at end of 6 months

The Grant may not be used for (This is NOT an exhaustive list):

  • Activities that may bring West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce and its funding partners into disrepute
  • Any costs associated with statutory requirements – e.g., registering with statuary bodies such as the ICO

All grants and support have strict eligibility criteria including job creation. 

West Cheshire Business Support Programme Events

There is a mix of workshops and bite-sized training planned as part of the West Cheshire Business Support Programme.  All will be promoted through the Let's Talk Business Events page and will also be mentioned in our weekly enewsletter.  If you haven't yet registered for the newsletter you can use this link to do this.

The workshops and bite-sized training will all be fully funded through the programme so there will be no cost for any West Cheshire business to attend.