Cabinet has agreed proposals to refocus the Council’s business support grants due to unprecedented circumstances this year – including establishing new funds dedicated to town centre COVID-19 recovery and flood resilience.
At its virtual meeting on Thursday, September 24, Cabinet considered a report outlining proposals to review the Council’s Regeneration business grants portfolio. The proposals will enable the Council to provide investment in support of businesses, in response to the economic challenges they currently face due the impact of Storm Dennis and the Coronavirus emergency.
With focus on recovering from Storm Dennis and the pandemic, the report outlined that now is an appropriate time to refocus the business grants offer. The following changes have now been considered and agreed by Cabinet:
Eligibility for the Town Centre Maintenance Grant will now be revised to include actions that facilitate social distancing such as small scale shop/building front modifications. Currently, the grant is limited to supporting traders and landlords to undertake minor improvements to their building fronts in order to improve the street scene – in Mountain Ash, Tonypandy, Treorchy, Aberdare, Ferndale and Porth. It offers a contribution of 75% up to a maximum grant of £1,000, and where necessary a contribution of 75% towards skip/scaffold costs up to a maximum of £300.
- Eligibility for the Enterprise Investment Fund will now berevised to support businesses in adapting or diversifying in response to the current economic circumstances. The fund currently invests in small and medium size companies, providing capital expenditure for start-ups and existing enterprises. It offers a contribution of 50% up to a maximum grant of £10,000.
- A new Town Centre COVID-19 Recovery Grant will be created, providing capital funding for ‘COVID-secure’ outdoor work to help social distancing and facilitate outdoor trading areas. Examples include provision of canopies and heating, outdoor tables, chairs and seating, or creating an electrical supply and lighting to outdoor spaces. The 2020/21 funding (£350,000) will be provided from Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns budget. It offers a contribution of 80% up to a maximum grant of £10,000.
- A new Major Projects Investment Fund will be created to provide support in instances where a funding gap exists that prevents other organisations from delivering economic growth opportunities. Examples include construction/redevelopment of premises for commercial or visitor economy use, providing infrastructure at key sites, or acquiring land or property. An initial allocation of £100,000 will be available, with investment targeted on a case-by-case basis and by invitation only.
- A new Flood Resilience Grant will provide targeted support for town centre businesses that were, and still are, affected by flooding from Storm Dennis. It will support anti-flood measures to improve the resilience of businesses to deal with any potential weather events in the future. Key areas of focus include doors, floor coverings, raising of power points and moisture resistant wall boarding. The fund will have a £300,000 budget and offers contribution of 80% up to a maximum grant of £7,500.
Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Housing, said: “Throughout 2020, local businesses have been severely impacted firstly by the devastating flooding in Rhondda Cynon Taf communities during February, and then the lockdown period and ongoing restrictions in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic – which continues to have such a large impact right across our society.
“The Council’s business support grants are designed to provide targeted help for local businesses, and to meet common needs. With the circumstances very different in 2020 and traders’ needs changing, officers have undertaken a review of the current portfolio to examine how existing resources could be tailored – and to explore opportunities for new avenues of investment.
“I’m pleased that Cabinet has today agreed with the recommendations to refocus the eligibility criteria for the existing Town Centre Maintenance Grant and Enterprise investment fund – to allow them to be used in ways that reflect the current circumstances, for instance, to help traders facilitate social distancing. Members also agreed to establish three grants which are again designed to be relevant in response to the unique circumstances of 2020 – including grants targeted at Town Centre recovery and Flood Resilience.”
Posted on Friday 25th September 2020