Agenda item

Final Report - Business Support Simplification


A condition of the interim grant support from BIS in 2015/16 was that each LEP/Growth Hub should conduct a Business Support Simplification Audit within its area, in an attempt to develop a more simple landscape where businesses could easily understand what was available at their location.


The Board has received reports on the development of this exercise/document and now moving to submit conclusions to BIS.


Steven Cochrane from Regenerate Pennine Lancashire was welcomed to the meeting to discuss the findings and recommendations from the draft report circulated with the agenda.  A number of areas was highlighted to the Board which included:


·  Access to growth finance has shown to be a key issue due to a confusing mix of grant and loan offers.  One of the recommendations would be the alignment of funding streams to assist with this.

·  There are gaps in support such as no generic start up offer for individuals over the maximum age and whose business idea is not projected to have high growth potential.  In addition there is limited support to retail sector.

·  Many respondents had not accessed any support.  There was a need to ensure effective marketing to engage and also a need to question whether sufficient demand is there.

·  There was a gap identified for a local independent innovation and technology support offer.

·  It was evident that more appropriate and regular feedback was required and looking to devise a Trip Advisor style rating system to support this.

·  There is a need to maintain and keep up to date information on the business support landscape.

·  More funding through results based payments required to give a greater link to performance monitoring and effective evaluation of projects which could be built into all contracts.

·  Effective coordination required between national and local products.


Members were invited to comment on the draft report (detailed below).


It was confirmed that in relation to the unified approach to funding, this is currently under review and looking at more holistic approach to policy.


In relation to an innovation plan, it was reported that there were plans in place to convene a steering group around this.  In addition, it was reported that BAE are actively supporting and identifying need.  It was agreed there is a need to link to the private sector as well as universities.


The Board acknowledged the need to understand the local authority grants around how active they are and whether they should focus on areas where support is not provided to work more closely with Growth Hub.


The Board agreed that the recommendations resolved some of the issues around duplication and gaps in support but further work was required.


The Board agreed that there is a need for an innovation plan aligned to the four key sectors – manufacturing, digital, healthcare and energy which are supported by transport, skills and professional services.


The concern around support to retail was highlighted particularly around the connection with town centre regeneration.  In addition it was highlighted that some tourism businesses were not eligible which also has an impact.  Although it was argued that by growing business areas, it could have a positive impact on retailers.  It was felt that there could be the potential for the local authority funding to be targeted to support regeneration in town centres to attract businesses and therefore promote a positive impact to the retail sector.


Resolved: The Board:

1.  Noted the report.

2.  Approved its submission to BIS.

3.  To seek information on whether there is a single coherent Lancashire based plan for town centres which includes transport.

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