Boosting Business Programme Guidance Notes

What is Boosting Business Programme?

The aim of the fund is to support the East Staffordshire economy by providing financial assistance to help existing small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to expand and grow and to assist entrepreneurs to start up their business and aspire towards growth.

The scheme is managed and funded by East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC).  

Boosting Business Programme Guidance Notes

Who can apply?

The fund will provide direct financial assistance (in the form of grants) to:

  1. SMEs located within the Borough of East Staffordshire that have been trading for more than 12 months and have ambitious plans to grow and expand their workforce.
  2. Individuals wishing to start up a new business in East Staffordshire or new start-up businesses that have been trading for less than 12 months.
  3. For individuals claiming universal credit wishing to apply for business funding; their application will need to be supported by a ward councillor along with meeting the criteria set out within this guidance document for new businesses. 

The business must be an SME, i.e. has between 1-249 employees, an annual turnover less than £42m and a balance sheet of less than £36m.

The business should be profit-seeking. Consideration will be given to applications from social enterprises, however they must demonstrate that they are growing and expanding and can fulfil one / some key objectives of the programme (create or safeguard jobs, have a positive impact on the local community).

The business's premises must, or will be going to, pay its business rates to East Staffordshire Borough Council.  If it is a new business, the business owner must permanently reside within East Staffordshire.


Ineligible individuals/ businesses

Applications from the following will not be considered:

  • Anyone who is not a permanent resident in East Staffordshire or
  • For existing business, any business that does not/ is not going to pay its business rates to ESBC.
  • Business activities that are deemed as inappropriate including the  promotion of political or religious views; betting shops; night clubs; illegal or immoral activities
  • Franchises
  • Any other business that the Council may deem to be ineligible.
  • Guidance on ineligible spend is included further on within this guidance.

What will the ESBC Boosting Business Programme support?

The scheme offers capital and revenue grant support to support new and existing SMEs business expansion and development plans.  The intention is that the grant helps with business growth and therefore will not help with general running costs of the business. 

Examples of eligible expenditure include:

  • ICT equipment e.g. servers, monitors.  
  • Laptops (For new business only) 
  • Web development
  • Office equipment e.g. furniture, whiteboards
  • New technology to support product and process development and/or innovation
  • Fit out of new premises or current premises
  • Relocation costs
  • Marketing/branding i.e. signage, display boards, leaflets, flyers, posters, stationery, telemarketing
  • Purchase of business data
  • Design of artwork 
  • Equipment hire for an exhibition
  • Exhibition stand items
  • Retail – shop fittings, counters, display stands, lighting, mirrors, racking, tills, flooring etc.

Examples of ineligible expenditure include:

  • Purchase of land and property
  • Security improvements i.e. Door access systems, security screens, fencing, CCTV systems, shutters and security lighting
  • Purchase of commercial vehicles (including hire purchase or lease)
  • External building works and ground works
  • Professional fees i.e. legal, accountancy and solicitors
  • Stock
  • Employee wages
  • Staff training costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Utility and fuel bills
  • Rent and business rates for current or new premises
  • Consultancy costs
  • Travel costs i.e. accommodation, train tickets, flights etc.

Applicants can receive advice from the ESBC Enterprise team on costs that can be considered eligible for grant support.

East Staffordshire Borough Council reserves the right to amend this guidance on eligible and ineligible expenditure at any time.

Grant Information

The following is available through the scheme:

(a) Existing SMEs located in the East Staffordshire area trading for more than 12 months

Grants of between 35% to 60% (75% in exceptional circumstances) of eligible project costs up to a maximum grant of £10,000.   The remaining eligible project costs will need to be match funded by the applicant.  

Example: A project totalling £9,000 can potentially receive a grant of £5,400 (60%) with the applicant making up the gap (the ‘match’ which in this case will be £3,600).

(b) New start-up companies located in the East Staffordshire area trading less than 12 months

Grants of between 35% to 60% of eligible project costs  from £500 to a maximum grant of £5,000.  The remaining eligible project costs will need to be match funded by the applicant.  

A project totalling £2,000 can potentially be awarded a grant of £1,200 (60%) with the applicant making up the gap (the ‘match’ which in this case will be £800).

The percentage and amount of grant awarded may be lower than requested, dependent upon the decision of the grant investment panel. In exceptional cases funding may be up to 75% of total project. This will need prior approval before application is processed.

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Achievability of project objectives and deliverables
  • Proposed job creation and safeguarding as a result of the business project, including apprenticeships
  • Whether the business is relocating into East Staffordshire
  • If the grant will result in an increase in turnover/ profitability
  • Strength of financials
  • Extent to which the business project delivers against the Council's corporate priorities including the benefit to the local community
  • Innovative nature of the business proposal

What information will I need to provide?

New businesses less than 12 months old are required to have enrolled and completed an appropriate programme to support business development and business planning.  

There are slightly different requirements depending on whether you have a new or existing business.

Existing businesses that are more than 12 months old are required to provide the following:

  • A fully completed and signed application form
  • Forecast profit and loss accounts and monthly cash flow forecasts for the next 12 months
  • Last 3 years of accounts including a copy of the latest management accounts (management accounts or financial forecasts will suffice for companies that have been trading for less than 12 months)
  • Cash flow and profit and loss statement for the last 12 months
  • List of key assumptions supporting the financial forecasts
  • Evidence of a business bank account pertaining to the business premises, eg copy of an up-to-date bank statement 
  • Copy of company certificate of incorporation (if a limited company)
  • Up to date balance sheet
  • Evidence of match funding
  • Copy of relevant insurances
  • Copy of Equal Opportunities statement
  • Quotes for all items of expenditure (three written quotations for items between £3,001 and £50,000)
  • Utility bill, driving license, passport, photo ID (any two)

New businesses that are less than 12 months old are required to provide the following:

  • Up to date business plan
  • CV for applicant/ business owner
  • Forecast profit and loss accounts and monthly cash flow forecasts for the next 12 months
  • List of key assumptions supporting the financial forecasts
  • Evidence of match funding
  • Confirmation of business bank account
  • Quotes for all items of expenditure (three written quotations for items between £3,001 and £50,000)
  • Evidence of enrolment and completion of appropriate business course 
  • Evidence of address in East Staffordshire Utility bill, driving license, passport, photo ID (any two)

All of the above information needs to be submitted before any application can be processed or submitted to the investment panel.

Once you are satisfied with your application:

  • Submit your application online - New businesses and existing businesses
  • Ensure the application form is signed and all relevant documentation listed in checklist at section 8 of the application form is submitted

How do I apply

If you are interested in applying for a grant from Boosting Business Programme, please contact the ESBC Enterprise team in the first instance.  

You can submit your application online for new businesses or existing businesses

How will my application be assessed?

Once your application and supporting documentation has been submitted and received by ESBC, you will receive an e-mail notifying you of its receipt.  

An officer from the Enterprise team will check through the application form and supporting documents to check that all of the relevant information is included.

Checks will then be made with other council departments to see if the council is already aware of your business and to identify any issues that the Enterprise Team and panel should be made aware of.  The officer will then prepare a short report summarising your application and will present this to the Boosting Business Programme investment panel.  

The business will also be invited along and expected to present their proposal and answer any questions the panel may have. 

The panel will aim to meet monthly.  A maximum of 4 applications will be considered at each panel meeting and businesses will be considered on first come first served basis.  The Enterprise team will advise you of the date that the panel will meet to consider your application. 

Investment panel

A panel consisting of Council representatives and members of the business community will meet to assess your application.  

Both new and existing businesses will be invited to attend the panel meeting to present your application.  This is intended as an opportunity for you to meet business and council representatives and to receive guidance on your business proposition.  

Panel meetings will be either face to face or virtual dependant on circumstances. For grant requests below £1000 applicants may not need to attend a panel review.

The application process is competitive and on a ‘first come first served’ basis – applications will be judged and scored against the criteria and against the quality and need of other applications.

You will be informed in writing of the panel’s decision within five working days of the panel meeting.  

The panel will make one of three decisions: 

•    Application approved
•    Application approved subject to certain issues being clarified
•    Application rejected

Offer letter/grant acceptance

Once an application has been through the panel process, you will receive a formal letter from ESBC advising you of the panel’s decision.  

If it is decided to award the grant, you will be sent an offer letter setting out the amount of grant being offered and what it can be used for.  This may differ from the amount applied for in the application form.  

The terms and conditions of the grant will be enclosed in a funding agreement letter.  You will be asked to check the terms and conditions set out in the agreement and return a signed copy to ESBC confirming you are happy to accept the grant and proceed with your project.  A copy of the letter will then be sent to you.

Approval is not guaranteed, so do not commence your project until you have received written notification of the panel's decision and the funding agreement has been signed and returned to ESBC.

Grant Payments

The grant approval is based on the information given in the application form.  The applicant will use the grant only in accordance with the details on the application form.   

Grant payments are issued as a reimbursement of eligible expenditure (i.e. paid in arrears) by the business and will be paid on production of relevant evidence and invoices from your company to ESBC for the eligible grant amount. 

Further notes:

  1. Grant claims should not include VAT.
  2. Grant payments will be made directly to the approved applicant business only and not to third parties.
  3. Grant payments will be made by BACS transfer into the bank account of approved applicant businesses using details supplied in the application form.  
  4. Grants can be claimed either at the completion of projects or by up to 2 instalments.
  5. A minimum of three estimates should be obtained for all eligible expenditure items over £3,000.
  6. East Staffordshire Borough Council will only reimburse against invoices for eligible expenditure dated after the application was approved.

Further Conditions and Requirements

  1. Only one grant from the Business Springboard Boost will be awarded per business in a 24 months period following completion of works or once agreed outputs have been achieved.  
  2. The decision of the panel will be final.  There is no appeal process.  Generally, unsuccessful applicants will not be able to re-submit their application although this may be viewed on a case by case basis and will be down to the panel’s discretion.
  3. The grant is subject to the availability of funds and is awarded at the complete discretion of the Council.
  4. The Council reserves the right to withdraw funding where the conditions attached to the grant award have not been adhered to, or to alter the criteria of the scheme at its absolute discretion.
  5. Any work undertaken before the application form was signed cannot be claimed for.
  6. Applications will be assessed on a case by case basis, and as such, awards will vary depending on evidence provided, viability of the business and project to be undertaken.
  7. Project commencement will begin on receipt of a signed offer/grant acceptance letter and BACS payment form, unless there are any pre-conditions set by the Investment Panel.
  8. Offer of the grant will lapse after one month of the date of the offer letter if no signed agreement letter has been received by ESBC.
  9. Once approval has been granted, any changes to the expenditure should be notified in writing to a member of the ESBC Enterprise team prior to being claimed for.  Any costs not agreed to and subsequently claimed for will not be reimbursed. 
  10. All items purchased that are to be funded by the grant MUST be paid for by cheque or credit/ debit card so that a clear evidence trail can be demonstrated.  Items purchased with cash will not be accepted.  This is to ensure that there is a clear audit trail. 
  11. All invoices, receipts and accounting records relating to the project must be kept for at least 6 years after completion of the project and made available for inspection by ESBC, its appointed auditors or other nominees.
  12. Any asset bought by the grant must be adequately stored, maintained, insured and available for inspection on request.
  13. The Council has a right to inspect projects at any time and will carry out a follow up monitoring check 6 and 12 months after the end date of the project to capture information on business performance.
  14. The Council can seek repayment if any capital assets are sold or leased, a substantial proportion of jobs are lost within 12 months of the project completing or if the business re-locates out of East Staffordshire and the business must make ESBC aware of this.
  15. If the project is not completed the Council can ask for any grant paid out back or withhold further payments.
  16. All awarded grants must be claimed for within 4 months of approval or at the latest within the financial year of funding programme. 
  17. The grant must not be used towards anything, which is, or may appear to be, party political in intention, use or presentation.  ESBC reserves the right to decide if this is the case.
  18. The applicant must publicise in a way to the satisfaction of ESBC the grant support provided by the Boosting Business Programme fund and in particular any publicity material, press releases, website news stories must include an acknowledgement that the project received funding from the fund.
  19. ESBC may wish to publicise any grants offered, including using the name of the recipient business.  The Council will contact you should we wish to use your details.
  20. If the applicant or any person connected with the application fails to comply with these conditions or commits any breach of faith such as misrepresentation or concealment of information, the Council may require the immediate repayment or all or part of the grant.
Enterprise Contact Team

Enterprise team contact information

  • (01283) 508625; 508592