With up to £175 million being injected into North East towns, as part of the government’s new Towns Fund, Kelly Green, regional director for the North East at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, explains how businesses can take advantage.
The UK government has announced funding plans for small towns across the country to help regenerate and boost local economies. These investments present real opportunities for local businesses to take advantage of and position themselves for growth with the right preparation.
Funding for the future
The £3.6 billion new Towns Fund has been established to support 100 towns across England to build prosperous futures. The funding is targeted at areas that have a proud industrial heritage, but that have not always benefited from economic growth.
The towns will be invited to submit regeneration plans and will be able to access up to £25 million each. The funding will be used to develop local transport services, technology and broadband connections, skills and culture – with revamped libraries, art centres, play parks and youth services.
Across the North East there are seven local towns that are expected to benefit from this, including Bishop Auckland, Blyth, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Thornaby-on-Tees.
Government investment in each of the towns will no doubt create opportunities for local businesses. As such, firms should consider investing in themselves – from upgrading premises, to expanding production facilities – with the support of our dedicated North East relationship teams. By doing so, they’ll be well positioned to take advantage of opportunities ahead.
Opportunities for businesses
For example, better infrastructure could cut journey times and the money could be used to upskill workers.
The measures to develop the towns will also help make the regions become a more attractive destination for outside investment – contributing further benefits to businesses as they prepare for an enriched local economy.
To implement plans that focus on expanding effectively and investing in growth, our relationship managers can offer support and advice to businesses and offer financial measures that can be tailored to businesses’ needs.
Help is on hand
Our latest Working Capital Index found that North East firms have over £65 billion tied up in excess working capital. This is the day-to-day cost of doing business and includes everything from staff wages and unpaid invoices to stock and equipment.
Having this cash tied up means firms do not have the financial headroom to invest in expanding their business. At Lloyds Bank, our working capital management tool can help companies audit their entire business and understand what’s causing working capital pressure.
The tool can then help inform businesses about what can be done to address financial pinch points, which can be as simple as more effective cashflow forecasting and agreeing clear invoicing milestones with suppliers.
As well as prioritising and planning, there are a range of financial solutions available that will ease pressure on working capital and improve their day-to-day situation.
Invoice finance allows firms to release up to 90% of the value of an invoice, often within 24 hours, giving businesses extra cash to implement growth measures – for example securing a surplus of stock, obtaining new space or hiring extra staff to deal with increased custom.
For some businesses, the cost of large equipment might also seem too expensive or unachievable. That’s why we offer asset finance to help businesses procure the right goods and machinery needed for growth.
Asset finance acts as a loan that is guaranteed against the equipment being purchased. It gives companies the money to buy the required apparatus and is particularly useful for companies looking to invest in their own growth.
Aiding the North East
Support for the local economies across the North East presents myriad opportunities for the region’s SMEs.
As part of our commitment to helping Britain prosper, Lloyds Bank is also dedicated to helping enable SMEs to succeed by supporting the region’s firms take advantage of growth opportunities.
As part of this commitment, we are dedicated to lending up to £700 million to North East companies this year to see the region’s businesses scale up and achieve their ambitions for growth.