BUSINESSES are in line for a boost after plans to create a £130,000 reserve for grant funding over the next two years were backed by council chiefs.
It comes as new figures show Hartlepool Borough Council has handed out a total of £40,922 in grants over the past six months to dozens of businesses, in a move which has helped create 44 jobs and safeguard a further eight.
The financial help provided to businesses was discussed at a meeting of the finance and policy meeting, chaired by council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.
It showed the number of packages available including business grants packages, enterprise development fund, incubation bursaries, security grant, women’s development fund and the high street innovation fund.
Committee members noted the grant awards for the first six months of the 2013-14 financial year, while councillors also noted that the council’s medium term budget plans included creating a reserve of £130,000, using the surplus generated on the successful Future Jobs Fund scheme.
That pot will help to provide one-off funding for business grants in 2014-15 and 2015-16, which will mean that the current level of support can continue to be provided for a further two years with no extra burden to the council.
It was welcomed by councillors and senior officers.
Damien Wilson, assistant director of regeneration, said: “A surplus of £130,000 has been generated on the Future Jobs Fund scheme which concluded in 2011-12.
“This scheme has successfully delivered all of the necessary outputs and it has now been confirmed that, after the cut off date of November 2013, this funding can be retained by the council.
“The current proposal is to utilise this surplus of £130,000 to provide the one-off funding required to meet the current level demand on business grants for a further two years.”
Senior officers say they are pleased with the progress but there is much more work to be done.
Mr Wilson added: “Economic growth is dependent on a strong business sector, creating jobs and investment.
“Whilst Hartlepool has seen good progress on the growth of the indigenous business market, significant further progress is still required.
“Business grants remain an important tool in stimulating local investment and also to compete for appropriate inward investment.
“The grant regimes also support projects that occupy new business premises therefore increasing the level of non domestic rate income.”
Committee members were asked for clarification on how people and businesses apply for funding help.
Mr Wilson confirmed funding can be applied for through the council’s economic regeneration team, based in Hartlepool Enterprise Centre, in Brougham Terrace, or through the council’s website.
Coun Akers-Belcher reiterated the need to avoid duplication with people applying for financial assistance on more than one occasion.
Dave Stubbs, the council’s chief executive, congratulated officers for their work.