A grant scheme which aims to help businesses across South Yorkshire to bridge the productivity gap is set to provide up to £3.3m in grant funding to boost the local economy after the region was identified as the lowest performing City Region in England and one of the worst performing areas in Europe.
With productivity being closely linked to improving quality of life, the Business Productivity Programme which was launched in October and to date has supported over 100 businesses, will help businesses to overcome barriers to growth and productivity challenges by applying for a match-funded grant.
Projects which include both consultancy services and investment in new equipment or machinery up to a value of £24,999 can apply for up to 50% of the costs to be funded through the new grant scheme. The new scheme is funded through the European Regional Development Fund and will be delivered by Enterprising Barnsley, Business Sheffield, Business Doncaster and Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO)
To qualify for the grant funding, businesses must be based in South Yorkshire and been trading for more than twelve months. As part of the application process businesses must submit a detailed expenditure plan.
According to the latest statistics released by the Office of National Statistics, only Swansea Bay City Region had a lower level of productivity than the Sheffield City Region. Data published by the Sheffield City Region has also suggested that if business productivity levels increased, the size of the local economy would increase from £35bn to £44bn if it matched the UK national average, and £62bn when compared with London.
Anna Smith, Programme Manager, Business Productivity Programme said:
“As many businesses turn their attentions to working in a post Covid-19 and post Brexit world, many have been forced to adapt and embrace news ways of running their business. The business productivity programme was developed in a bid to help businesses access the skills, support and capital needed to respond a changing economy.
“Business productivity is an important benchmark and research has consistently showed strong links between economic growth, quality of life and standard of living. Although there have been some signs of increases in productivity in recent years, South Yorkshire has struggled to catch up with other parts of the UK. Instead, the gap appears to widening.
“Historically, the local economy has been dependent upon low-skilled jobs and according to research published by the Sheffield City Region, nearly half of those jobs are at threat of automation within the next two decades. The aim of the business productivity programme is to help equip South Yorkshire businesses with the skills and support needed to innovate, invest in R&D and drive future economic growth within the region.
“The long term aim of the programme is to help attract and retain high skilled jobs within South Yorkshire, by helping businesses to understand and overcome perceived barriers to growth..
To find out more about the Business Productivity programme, Business owners should contact their Local Council’s Business Support Team.