A £5 million countywide package of support programmes for small businesses and apprentices has been launched through a partnership of Councils’ in Staffordshire, involving Cannock Chase Council.
The Council’s Cabinet approved to allocate funds from the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund to participate in this initiative being led by Staffordshire County Council, to support additional skills and training initiatives across the District in their meeting on 4 March.
Funding of £302,000 has been allocated by the District Council to the initiative, which will be branded as Staffordshire Means Back to Business and this funding will maximise the potential impact that could be achieved locally.
The Staffordshire Means Back to Business support programmes include an investment to fund wages for 500 apprentices and a training top-up fund for businesses to upskill their employees.
Councillor Tony Johnson, Portfolio Leader for Economic Development and Planning said “I am delighted that Cabinet had agreed to allocate some of the ARG funding to support this County wide initiative. It will maximise the impact of employability, skills and training initiatives which will benefit residents in Cannock Chase. The Covid-19 pandemic has struck the economy hard, the funds being directed to this initiative will help to mitigate the effects by creating more employment opportunities.”
Funding of £52,000 has been allocated by the District Council to the Nil Cost Training for Employers Top Up Project. Where businesses are 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. Grants of up to £5,000 would be provided and matched through other funding sources. Up to 400 Staffordshire businesses could be supported over the next 15 months through the programme.
Funding of £250,000 has been allocated by the District Council towards the Staffordshire 500 Apprentice Wage Support. The Staffordshire 500, Apprentices Wage Support programme could see the creation of up to 500 apprentices. It will incentivise employers to take on 16 to 24-year-olds by contributing to the costs associated with recruiting and retaining an apprentice. It will support smaller companies that do not pay into the national apprenticeship levy. The programme could also offer apprentices progression from the national Kickstart scheme.
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White 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.
“In an area like Staffordshire that has a county council plus district and borough councils with their own COVID-19 funding this support is far more effectively delivered by close collaborative working between councils and a range of other partners to make our respective funding go further.
“We hope that our three new programmes will reach more people and businesses affected 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.
“The new programmes are designed to complement existing support schemes and cover gaps in the assistance already available. We look forward to working with colleagues across our district and boroughs to make a difference to our communities and the local economy over the coming months.”
People can find out more about the new programmes at: www.staffordshire.gov.uk/5millionscheme