Grants create 128 new jobs

Stuart Drummond
Stuart Drummond

COUNCIL grants worth £112,000 have helped create dozens of jobs and provided financial help for almost 50 new businesses.

New figures show Hartlepool Borough Council has distributed a range of grants to help create 128 jobs, safeguard a further 42 and help 11 individual residents into employment.

There has also been 47 new businesses assisted with grant funding over the last 12 months.

Mayor Stuart Drummond was informed of the work over the past year at a meeting of the regeneration, economic development and skills portfolio.

He said the work of the council’s economic development team represents “great value for money”.

The breakdown of the individual grant funding awards was not released at the meeting due to its confidential nature.

Grants worth up to £5,000 are decided by officers with anything above that going to the relevant portfolio holder.

Mayor Drummond was told the council operates a variety of schemes to support people back into work or self-employment, together with schemes to support enterprise and business development.

Schemes include business grants packages, enterprise development fund, business incubation bursaries, women’s development fund, security grants and employment bursaries.

All schemes are monitored over an initial six month period.

The service has a core budget of £45,000 but the total amount spent last financial year was £112,000 due to additional money becoming available including European Regional Development Fund money.

Economic chiefs have warned it is “unlikely” at the present time similar resources will be available this financial year.

Mick Emerson, the council’s principal economic development officer, said: “These schemes remain key to the ongoing development of the business base of the town and the council’s opportunity to intervene.

“However, it must be accepted that the current level of budget will mean that it is difficult for the council to support as many projects as it has in previous years.”

Mr Emerson said that could lead to a lot of “disappointed” people in the start-up business area as the council moves towards a loan rather than a grant arrangement.

Mayor Drummond said: “I think we are giving great value for money.

“But we have had to reduce the amount of money that we can give people, be more cut throat and perhaps more creative.”

Economic chiefs added that grant funding, however small, can lead to the development of a long term relationship with the businesses to help them grow and develop over a period of time.

In turn, officers said it can encourage them to commit the firm’s future to town and boost employment opportunities.

The figures cover the period from April last year to March this year.