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SME restart and recovery grants

Delivered by North East Growth Hub


The Expressions of Interest for the SME Restart and Recovery scheme has now closed.

Businesses in Durham directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can still apply for revenue funding through the SME restart and recovery grant scheme.

Revenue funding is yet to be fully allocated in Durham, which is why the Expression of Interest window for Durham-based business is reopening.

Please be aware that grants can only be used to access external expertise or consultancy support that will help the business to respond to the impact of COVID-19. The last project end date is 24th Feb 2021 – all project activity must be completed and paid for and the Grant Claim submitted by this date.

Grants for the purchase of small equipment have been fully allocated and we are unable to accept expressions of interest relating to equipment purchases.

We can only offer a limited amount of revenue funding. 

If you are interested in applying, please read the eligibility guidelines before starting your application to ensure you meet the criteria, and can evidence a 20% decline in turnover due to COVID-19 from 17 March 2020 to date, compared to the same period last year.

As with previous rounds, we are carrying out a ballot system to manage applications, which means that all eligible businesses will have the equal chance of receiving funding by completing an expression of interest form, with successful candidates chosen by random selection. The level of grants available vastly outstrips demand with only around 650 businesses receiving support against a 150,000-business population. 

About the fund

In response to the demand for increased support for SMEs, government has committed an additional £20m from the England European Regional Development Fund to support the wider economy and help SMEs restart and recover. 

The North East LEP area (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland) has been awarded more than £1.8m.

Eligible SMEs in the area - businesses deemed to have been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic - will be able to apply for grants of between £1,000 and £3,000.

The funds can be used to access external expertise or consultancy support that will help the business to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and can include marketing, operations, HR, finance, health and safety and strategic planning. Examples include:

  • Strategy Development

  • Change Management

  • Product development / diversification

  • Process improvement systems

  • Financial restructuring

  • Marketing planning

  • Web design / development

  • Accessing new markets

  • HR Strategy planning and development

  • Production of Videos or Animations

The grant rate is 100%, but businesses will have to make the initial payment for the support or purchase and claim the grant back. The VAT element of any support or purchase is not eligible for grant support.

You must not pay for any services before you have been officially awarded the grant, any payments made to prior to signing your funding contract will not be eligible for funding.

Eligibility Criteria

For a business to be eligible to apply for this grant funding, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Be able to demonstrate that the business has been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and can evidence at least a 20% decline in turnover, from 17 March 2020 to date, when compared with the same period last year.  

Businesses trading less than two years need to be able to demonstrate that the business has been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and can evidence at least a 20% reduction in turnover, from 17 March 2020 to date.  NB: This will need to be evidenced.

  • It must be based County Durham

  • It must be an SME - employ fewer than 250 people and have a turnover of less that €50M

  • It must have been trading prior to 01 March 2020 and still be actively trading.

  • It must generate 51%+ of its income from commercial sources – donations, grants and contracts awarded without a competitive process are not classed as commercial income.

Ineligible Sectors – ERDF funding cannot support the following sectors:

  • Businesses that deliver Statutory Services such as a schools / doctors surgeries / care homes
    Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and aquaculture, Processing and marketing of agricultural products,

  • Shipbuilding, Primary production, Coal or steel, Synthetic Fibres, Insurance/brokerage companies involved in the provision of financial or insurance products or any auxiliary activities around these (such as selling, advising on or management of).

The SME restart and recovery grants are supported by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014 to 2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. For more information click here.


Tagged under Coronavirus Covid19