Covid Digital Recovery Grant

Grant funding for Gloucestershire SMEs

 

Businesses are open again. Evenings are warmer, mornings brighter, and life is slowly returning to normal. With half of the UK now vaccinated, there is hope on the horizon.

But the fight is far from over for SMEs. Eighteen months of restrictions has taken its toll, and now they need our help.

The Covid Digital Recovery Grant (CDRG) is a cash injection for Gloucestershire SMEs, that are recovering from the impact of Covid. As the name suggests, the CDRG is focused on digital tools and techniques to help businesses find their feet again. That might mean a new or improved website, software, technology, e-commerce, online fulfilment, or another tool or technique to help you recover. If it’s digital, it’s eligible.

Digital is the most powerful recovery tool in the modern business arsenal. It provides value for money, transformational potential, and universal accessibility for companies of all shapes and sizes. If your recovery plan includes digital, here is your chance to fund it.

Contact us via digitalgrants@thegrowthhub.biz to find out more about the grant.

 

Applications open 1st July 2021 and close 15th July 2021

Apply Now

 

Accessibility Statement:

GFirst LEP and the Growth Hub are committed to making the grant application fully accessible and can provide assistance to people who need help using the online funding application process. Please contact us on digitalgrants@thegrowthhub.biz for support.

Eligibility criteria

  1. Priority will be given to those businesses that have not received previous funding from The Growth Hub, including the SME Recovery Grant. If you have received funding, you may nonetheless still apply.
  2. Your business must have been registered prior to March 2020 (i.e. pre-Covid).
  3. Your business must be an SME trading in Gloucestershire and employ a maximum of 20 FTE (full-time equivalent) employees.

Grant criteria

  1. Grants can only be spent on Covid recovery activity, not for rescuing a business or investing in a new start-up.
  2. Grants can only be spent on improving processes, sales or services through digital enhancement and implementation.
  3. Grants can only be spent on digital improvement or digital products, including professional services relating to digital enhancement.
  4. Grants should be spent within Gloucestershire, where possible.
  5. Applications should include 3 written quotes, highlighting the preferred supplier, within 2 weeks from the first stage of approval. Grants cannot be spent until the final stage of approval is confirmed.
  6. In accordance with Article 3.2(4) of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, Subsidy control rule, the business must not have or will exceed the limit of state subsidy of £335,000 over the relevant three-year physical period, if you were successful in being awarded a grant.
  7. Once final stage approval is confirmed, the business has 8 weeks to make payment for goods or services. 
  8. Reimbursement will be made within 30 days following submissions of proof of payment - bank statement and paid invoice(s). 

Business obligations

  1. Business agrees to provide GFirst LEP with bank details as part of the process.
  2. Business agrees to spend the value of the grant on goods or services as stated in the Grant Application Form.
  3. Business agrees to provide the required documentation to evidence spend within 8 weeks of receiving the Funding Agreement Form. Or before Friday 22/10/2021, whichever is soonest.
  4. Business understands that the bank statements and paid invoice(s) are required for grant expenditure to be reimbursed. 

Examples

This fund is open to any Gloucestershire SMEs that meet the eligibility criteria. To help you make a decision and put together a competitive application, here are some examples of ideal candidates for the CDRG:

Retailer
Trading through Covid has shown a small retailer that the potential for online sales could outstrips their physical sales. Improving their e-commerce activity would support this and also help them to reach customers who are outside of their local catchment area. Adding a Customer Relationship Management system would enable them to conduct targeted online marketing campaigns, and develop their seasonal sales. These investments would protect and potentially create jobs. 
Hospitality
The business sees the potential for virtual events to continue beyond the end of restrictions. Having made do with their current digital provision during Covid, they would now like to invest in better equipment and additional online services that allow for easier bookings and a better customer experience. Reducing the need for travel and time spent setting-up physical events, these purchases could increase capacity and sales and also offer a more sustainable product to customers.
Leisure
A gym would like to improve their usage of the internet of things (IOT) and technology integration, providing their members with a better user experience both in the gym and at home. The offer would include the ability to download training plans, exercise videos, trainer demonstrations, VR technology, and digital training sessions. With many of these providing out-of-gym benefits, the physical restriction of premises size becomes less restrictive, and may mean more concurrent memberships (sales).

FAQs

GRANT SCHEME

COVID DIGITAL RECOVERY GRANT

The Covid Digital Recovery Grants are designed to help Gloucestershire businesses use digital to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses can use the funding to pay for a variety of digital activities, including new or refreshed websites, software, technology, e-commerce, online fulfilment, and many more. 100% of the funding will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.

The Covid Digital Recovery Grant will be administered through GFirst LEP, in partnership with the Growth Hub and the six local authorities.

CURRENT SCHEME STATUS:

APPLICATIONS WILL OPEN AT 10:00 A.M. ON THURSDAY 1 JULY


SCHEME FAQS

Get the answers to your questions here, and learn all you need to know about this grant.

WHAT ARE THE KEY DATES I NEED TO KNOW?

Applications for the Covid Digital Recovery Grant will open at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday 1 July.

We anticipate that the demand will be high and we may need to pause applications to allow us to make an initial assessment. 

Once the assessment has been completed, applications may re-open. This process will be repeated until all the grants are allocated.

It is likely to be at least 2 weeks if the grant scheme is paused, before we announce the date of any further rounds of applications. A 5 day notice period will be provided via the web page prior to the applications reopening. 

HOW MUCH FUNDING IS AVAILABLE?

Applications up to the total value of £3,000 will be accepted for the Covid Digital Recovery Grant. 

If your company is VAT registered, we will pay the net amount. If your company is not VAT registered, we will pay the gross amount.

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR THE COVID DIGITAL RECOVERY GRANT?

All applicants will need to confirm the following on application:

  • The business is based in Gloucestershire and is a small or medium enterprise (SME).
  • Employs up to 20 FTE employees or less. 
  • The business has less than £50m in turnover or a balance sheet of less than £43m.
  • Your business started trading before 1st March 2020.
  • The grant is to assist with Covid recovery and is not “business as usual” or related to personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing or other regulatory requirements. 
  • The activity has not started prior to the date of application and will be completed by Friday 22/10/2021. 
  • Activities will improve processes, sales or services through digital enhancement and implementation. 
  • Funding will only be spent on digital improvement or digital products, including professional services relating to digital enhancement.

Priority will be given to those applications from businesses that have not previously received grant funding from The Growth Hub.

Business previously in receipt of grant funding may still apply.

Businesses will also need to confirm:

  • Business bank account details and provide evidence of this when requested.
  • Agreement to be credit checked by their local authority.
  • The provision of 3 supplier quotes by email.
  • That the business has no relationship or conflict of interest with the supplier(s) of the products/services to be provided.
  • The provision of proof of payment for services via paid invoices, bank statements and/or receipts, in order to claim back the grant payment.
  • The ability to cashflow the activities until the grant is paid. This may take up to 4 weeks from submission and verification of evidence.

If you are not sure if your business is eligible please contact us on digitalgrants@thegrowthhub.biz before the application window opens.

WHY IS THE GRANT LIMITED TO 20 FTE EMPLOYEES?

The decision to cap the grant to companies that employ 20 full time employees (FTE) or less, was made after careful consideration. The small businesses in this category would benefit the most from the limited amount of funds available. As the grant is focused on digital, business can get online quickly, if they currently have no presence. Or enhance their website capability, to accelerate recovery from Covid.

FOR HOW MUCH MONEY CAN MY BUSINESS APPLY?

Applications up to the total value of £3,000 will be accepted for the Covid Digital Recovery Grant. 

If your company is VAT registered, we will pay the net amount. If your company is not VAT registered, we will pay the gross amount.

Please note that, if successful, you will need to fund the project and claim the approved costs after it has been completed.

WHAT IS THE SUBSIDY ALLOWANCE AND HOW DOES IT APPLY TO THIS PROJECT?

The subsidy allowance scheme from 4 March 2021 is in accordance with Article 3.2(4) of the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) , which enables an applicant to receive up to a maximum level of subsidy without engaging Chapter 3 of the TCA. There are 3 levels of subsidy allowance.

  • Small amounts of financial assistance allowance – you’re allowed up to £335,000 over any period of 3 years.
  • Covid-19 business grant allowance – you’re allowed up to £1,600,000.
  • Covid-19 business grant special allowance - up to £9M provided certain conditions are met.

Grants under these 3 allowances can be combined for a potential total allowance of up to £10,935,000.

The source of the Covid Digital Recovery Grant is the Additional Relief Grants provided by Government and distributed through the local authorities. The “small amounts of financial assistance allowance” category is therefore applicable to businesses applying for this grant.

Further information can be found in the government’s guidance for each grant scheme.

FOR HOW LONG WILL THE GRANT BE AVAILABLE?

Applications for the Covid Digital Recovery Grant will open at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday 1 July.

We anticipate that the demand will be high and expect a large volume of applications. We may temporarily pause applications to allow us to make an initial assessment.

Once the initial assessment has been completed, applications may re-open and this process will be repeated until all the grants are allocated.

It is likely to be at least 2 weeks from pausing the grant scheme before we announce the date of any further rounds of applications. 5 day's notice prior to the grant reopening will be provided via the web page.

HOW DO I APPLY?

Applications will be completed online via the Growth Hub website. The link will be at the top of this page when applications open.

FOR WHAT CAN I USE THE GRANT?

The eligible activity for the Covid Digital Recovery Grant includes:

  • Pandemic recovery activity only
  • Improving processes, efficiency, sales or services through digital enhancement and implementation.
  • Digital improvement or digital products, including professional services relating to digital enhancement.
CAN THE GRANT BE USED FOR SOCIAL MEDIA, ADVERTISING, OR MARKETING?

The grant can cover the use of social media. Please explain the impact of Covid on your business which has prompted the requirement to review existing social media usage. It can also be used for more general online marketing with an explanation of why Covid has prompted the requirement to review or implement change.

DO I NEED QUOTES FOR THE ACTIVITY I WANT TO FUND VIA THE GRANT?

Yes, you will need to provide 3 quotes for purchases of services or equipment or technology that you want to fund. Screenshots of online catalogues are acceptable.

DO I NEED TO USE GLOUCESTERSHIRE SUPPLIERS?

We encourage all applicants to consider Gloucestershire suppliers where possible to further boost the recovery of the county. You may use any supplier, so long as they are a business and the service or product they supply, is eligible for grant funding and is relevant. Additionally, you will need to confirm that the supplier is independent of you and your business, and there is no conflict of interest.

I HAVE ALREADY STARTED/COMPLETED MY PROJECT. CAN I STILL APPLY FOR THE GRANT TO COVER THESE COSTS?

No, the grant cannot fund activity that has already started. Your application must include a quote for the activity you wish to fund and you cannot commission the work until your application has been successfully confirmed and you have received an offer letter.

DO I HAVE TO INCLUDE ANY CONTRIBUTION?

No, you do not have to contribute financially. The grant will fund 100% of eligible costs up to £3,000.

However, if your total project costs exceed £3,000, you will need to fund any costs over that value. This could be if it forms part of a larger project within your business. For example, you could be planning a redesign of your website costing £5,000, and are applying for £3,000 to cover an element of this. In this instance you can apply for a maximum of £3,000.

Please note upon confirmation of a successful application, you will need to fund the project and claim the costs back after it has been completed.

WHO DECIDED THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA?

The grants are funded by the Gloucestershire Local Authorities and overseen by GFirst LEP. 

I AM A NEW BUSINESS THAT STARTED OPERATING AFTER 1 MARCH 2020. DO I QUALIFY?

The grant scheme has been established to help Gloucestershire businesses recover from the impact of Covid. As your business was not trading before the outbreak of the pandemic, the impact cannot be evidenced and therefore you are not eligible for this grant.

You can access support from the Start and Grow Enterprise project. Visit their website to find out more. https://www.startandgrowenterprise.uk/

I HAVE MORE THAN ONE BUSINESS. CAN EACH BUSINESS APPLY FOR A GRANT?
In principle yes, provided that the businesses are separate legal entities and delivering different activities. However, we would need more information to confirm this. Please contact digitalgrants@thegrowthhub.biz with details of your businesses before the application window opens.
DO I NEED TO REGISTER OR DO ANYTHING AHEAD OF THE APPLICATIONS OPENING?

We strongly recommend you read through all FAQs so you can prepare the information you need. You do not need to register an account on the website in order to make an application. Any further updates will be posted via the website.

HOW DO I CONTACT SOMEBODY TO ASK QUESTIONS?

You can contact us via digitalgrants@thegrowthhub.biz to ask questions regarding the scheme. However, these FAQs have been collated to give you as much information as possible.

If you are currently receiving support from a Business Navigator or Guide, you can also discuss the scheme with them. Due to the volume of applications we are anticipating, we cannot provide a status update on your application.

I NEED ADDITIONAL HELP FOR MY BUSINESS. WHERE CAN I GET FURTHER SUPPORT?

You can contact The Growth Hub to find out what other support may be available to your business. We have a full schedule of online workshops, 1-2-1s, and direct business support available via our Business Navigators and Business Guides. 

WILL I RECEIVE AN EMAIL TO CONFIRM THE APPLICATION HAS BEEN RECEIVED?

Upon submission of your online application you will receive a confirmation email. This email will contain the reference number for your application.

WHAT IS THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS FOR AN APPLICATION TO BE SUCCESSFUL?

Applications are initially assessed to ensure the business meets a set criteria and the activity requested, to be eligible for the grant.

Applications will go through a three stage review process.

WHEN WILL I RECEIVE THE GRANT IF MY APPLICATION IS APPROVED?

Applicants will need to be prepared to work with the CDRG team. This is due to the timings required to process grant payments. Any requests from the CDRG team will need to be replied promptly, and all requests for evidence such as bank statements should be processed quickly by successful applicants. You will be asked to consider if you will be able to meet this requirement before submitting your application.

The grant makes payment to successful applicants in arrears and after the business has received the final letter of approval. The business can then purchase and receive the support or use the items that the grant has covered. In all instances, we need to see copies of supplier’s invoices and a copy of the bank statement showing that payment has been made to the relevant suppliers.

The business has 8 weeks from the date of the final letter to return the funding agreement and proof of payment. Claims must be completed by Friday 22/10/2021. Once all the relevant evidence has been provided, payment should be made within 30 days.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY APPLICATION IF I DO NOT PROVIDE ALL THE REQUIRED INFORMATION?

Your application will be rejected. You will be contacted by our team to let you know that we are unable to process your application due to missing information. You will be advised that if you still wish to apply for a grant, you can do so but will need to submit a new application with all the required information.

Grants are offered on a first come, first served basis, and only to applicants who submit a complete and eligible application.

HOW SHOULD I PAY MY SUPPLIERS?

Wherever possible, electronic payments should be made from your bank account to the suppliers. On occasions where this is not possible, payments by cheque or business debit cards are permitted. If cheque payments are made, please note you will be required to submit a photocopy of the cheque with your supporting information.

In exceptional circumstances, where other payment options are not possible, the use of a business credit card can be approved. However, to claim this against the grant, you would need to show the balance having been paid in full and the payment to the card provider leaving your business bank account.

Payments through PayPal are accepted only if the payment is taken directly from the business bank account, i.e. you can evidence the individual invoice amount leaving the bank account. You are not able to pay an invoice using PayPal if you are using existing funds in a PayPal account, as each expenditure item must be evidenced back to the dedicated bank account.

Under no circumstances are payments by cash for invoices acceptable.

DO I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE GRANT MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT AND EVIDENCE PRSENTED, TO SUBMIT A CLAIM?

We are expecting most projects to submit one claim on completion of the whole project, for the total grant award value. However, you can make separate claims depending on the activity specified in your offer letter. Example:

  • Grant offer was for £3,000 total activity, split between:
  • Web design & support £2,000
  • Purchase of equipment/technology £1,000

You can make two separate claims if each claim has all the supporting evidence, i.e. one for web design & support and one for equipment.

DO I HAVE TO PAY BACK THE GRANT?

The grant is recoverable from the applicant if it is proved that their application and/or claim contained false or fraudulent information.

IF I AM TURNED DOWN FOR A GRANT, CAN I APPEAL?

Applicants can ask the CDRG team to review their decision if they think that:

  • The decision was based on an error of fact;
  • The CDRG team made a procedural error in processing the application.

Applicants must make this request within 5 days of receiving the decision letter by emailing digitalgrants@thegrowthhub.biz.

WHAT IS THE GROWTH HUB?

The Growth Hub is a Gloucestershire-wide network of business centres, where you can get free help and support to help your business grow. As well as direct consultancy and advice, The Growth Hub also offers online events and workshops, and much more.

It's our mission to make free business support accessible for every Gloucestershire business. You can apply for support here, view our online events here, or just drop us an email at talktous@thegrowthhub.biz to chat about your business.


APPLICATION FORM FAQS

The fast-track to a successful application. These FAQs cover everything you need to know to complete the application form, including key questions, and information to prepare ahead of time. 

 

CAN I SEE THE QUESTIONS IN PREPARATION FOR MY APPLICATION?

Please carefully review the eligibility criteria on this page before preparing your application. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, please email digitalgrants@thegrowthhub.biz before you start.

You can begin preparation for when applications open, by gathering the information below.

  • General business information like registered address and trading start date
  • Type of business
  • Company Registration Number or Unique Tax Reference
  • VAT number (if registered)
  • Relevant SIC code for your business
  • Business turnover for the last financial year
  • Business turnover for the current financial year to date
  • Number of staff, FTE, in your business
  • Number of jobs safeguarded as a result of the grant
  • Number of jobs created as a result of the grant
  • Summary of what your business does, maximum 500 words
  • Completion date for the project
     

Prepare answers to the following questions (it is important that you give enough detail to explain the need for this grant):

  • How has your business been affected by Covid? 500 words maximum
  • A breakdown of the services and items you want the grant to fund, with associated costs. Costs should be provided net, if you’re VAT registered.
  • How will the grant funded activity help your business recover from the impact of Covid? 500 words maximum

Additional information to help you prepare your application can be found on this page.

CAN I SAVE MY APPLICATION AND COME BACK TO IT?

No, you cannot. We recommend you review the guidance on this page, and prepare the information you will need to submit ahead of applications opening. This will allow you to provide accurate information, in a timely manner, when applications open.

WHAT IS A UNIQUE TAX REFERENCE (UTR)?

Unique Taxpayer Reference numbers (or UTRs) are up to 10-digit codes that HMRC use to uniquely identify you or your business whenever they are dealing with your tax.  You will have a UTR number if you submit a self-assessment tax return. You can find a lost UTR here: https://www.gov.uk/find-lost-utr-number

WHAT IS MY COMPANY REGISTRATION NUMBER?

You can find your Company Registration number here: https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company

DO I NEED TO PROVIDE A UTR OR A COMPANY REGISTRATION NUMBER?

You will have a UTR number if you submit a self-assessment tax return. You will have a Company Registration number if you are registered with Companies House. You only need to provide either a UTR or a Registration number.

WHAT IS MY TRADING START DATE?

Your trading start date is when your business became operational and started to generate sales.

WHAT IS A SIC CODE?

A SIC code is a five-digit Standard Industrial Classification code and is used to identify and categorise the principal business activities of companies operating within the UK. You can search for your SIC code on the GOV.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/standard-industrial-classification-of-economic-activities-sic

WHAT DOES FULL TIME EQUIVALENT MEAN?

The calculation of full-time equivalent (FTE) is an employee's scheduled hours divided by the employer's hours for a standard full-time working week. For instance, for an employer who has a standard 40-hour working week:

  • Full time employee who works 40 hours per week is 1.0 FTE
  • Full time employee who works 40 hours per week for 6 months a year is 0.5 FTE
  • A part time employee that does 20 hours a week would be 0.5 FTE.
  • A part time employee that works 12 hours a week would be 0.3 FTE

If you have staff on furlough at the time of your application, they should be included in your overall FTE calculation. 

WHAT IS A SAFEGUARDED JOB?

A safeguarded job is one that was at risk at the time of applying for the grant but which is anticipated to remain in existence 6 months after receiving support. This includes both part-time and full-time jobs, which should be recorded relative to full-time equivalent (FTE).

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY A DEDICATED BANK ACCOUNT FOR MY BUSINESS?

For the purposes of these grants, a dedicated bank account is one that holds only business-based transactions and is kept separate from any personal payments or receipts.

WHAT INFORMATION DOES MY QUOTE HAVE TO INCLUDE?

A quote for services or product purchases to be funded by the grant should include:

  • Supplier business name and address
  • Applicant business name and address
  • Description of activity/service/product
  • Total net cost of activity/service/product
  • Date the quote was provided (please be aware this activity cannot have already been commissioned or started)

Screenshots of online catalogues should clearly show:

  • The item
  • The web address of the item
  • The date that the screen shot was captured.

The acceptable file formats for a quote are Word document, Excel spreadsheet, PDF or PowerPoint Presentation, JPG or PNG image file.

Upon submission of your application you will receive an email to which you will need to respond, attaching your quote documentation and your unique application reference number in the subject heading.

WHAT IS AN OFFER LETTER?

If your grant application is successful, you will receive an Offer Letter detailing the amount, timescales as well as the terms and conditions of the grant.  This is a legal document and you must sign and return it (this will be done electronically) to state that the details are correct and that you agree to the terms and conditions of the grant offer.

Note: If you receive an error message on submission of your completed form, please take a screenshot of the entire form including the error message, and email to us immediately. The time stamp on your email will be used as your submission time.

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