Grants, support and funding caught in the Made in Britain Twitter net: 25 February 2021

EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.

This week we look at grants, support and funding.

Question one: Has leaving the EU affected funding, support and grants for British manufacturers? After Brexit what opportunities are there for business funding and grants?

Response: From personal experience, the only grant we ever received was EU backed We will be interested in learning about what opportunities there could be post-Brexit and the level of support out for there for British manufacturers

Made in Britain: How did you find out about the EU grant?

Response: We were approached by a company who handled the grants. It wasn't until we received the paper, did we realise it was EU backed (it had the EU stamp)

Response: Do you think there may be UK grants that exist that many aren't aware of, or is that that they just don't exist?

Response: If they do then who has the responsibility to get these to manufacturers? the manufacturer must seek them out or the funder needs to promote them better?

Response: I would argue they need to be advertised better

Response: There is definitely a gap here. I know most companies are seeing them out themselves, but that is a lot of man hours researching and filling in forms. banks, financial institutions offering grants, etc, Government agencies and trade advisors should all be signposting better

Response: That's an either / or question, it's certainly not advertised well if they do exist

Response: It's an interesting point - some businesses seem to be "experts" in getting every opportunity. Wonder why?

Response: They could have links or contacts they lean on potentially? As an SME, we're left in the dark

Response: This is where some help is needed. There are ITAs for international trade, is there an equivalent group/dept to help SMEs access what they need?

Response: That reminds me, we are still yet to receive any word back from the DIT about acquiring an ITA, contact was made after the exporting webinar ... it's not really helpful tradegov takes so long to respond And to answer your question, again, who knows?

Response: That's really interesting feedback, that is some weeks ago now. Has anyone else had similar experiences with DIT/ITAs?

Response: It would be really interesting to know, we made contact with ours who is based in Fareham, South East, We've heard nothing ...

Made in Britain: Do keep us updated on this as it would be useful to know and to share with other Made in Britain members.

Response: Many of the grants and funding were from EU sources. There is some level of funding from LEPs... and also some other enterprise funds... anyone who has accessed them?

Response: How does the qualification for these grants and funding differ from the EU ones? easier or more difficult to qualify?

Response: Wales has received ££B's of funding over the last 20 years from EU. Welsh Gov set up a department to chase the money - WEFO. The funding was rarely for what Welsh business needed. Should we be asking: What types of funding should replace EU funding?

Response: Agreed

Response: I'd agree with that and couple it with what funding is needed. It sounds from your experience that what was needed and what was provided were quite different?

Response: Not always, there have been some very good programs, alas they are in the minority. Funding should suit the company not the fund. If they were all good we would not be the poor relative in the Union.

Response: A complete overhaul of grants and funding. They should be in the form of soft loans, the company receiving them would have a vested interest in making them work. The application for access should also be quick.

Response: Who would you see providing the soft loans? would it be Government or some deal with banks?

Response: Following the principles of the Bounceback loan the Banks can administer it with backing from the government. It seems to have worked very well for most. I would say that some stronger checks and balances would be needed. 

Response: Might this have proven that the system can work?

Response: There are a few niggles with some loans, that is why a few more checks and balances are needed. 

Response: We have not had any EU grants but we did have the bounce back loan etc from our government, this was quite an easy process and a very welcome one during these unfortunate times

Response: The Government seemed quite quick to come up with support packages in a pandemic. Is there a level of strategic support now needed to build for the future?

Response: Most definitely but I’m sure that there is a plan an “after Brexit plan” that the government have, it’s just unfortunate that coronavirus is here! 

Response: I was wondering if any other grants were given out last year due to emergency funding by the government?

Response: Yes there was quite a few, but we did not qualify. grants were mainly for the hospitality and retail sectors

Response: Do you think these should have been more widely available?

Response: Yes, our customers “the hospitality sector and retail sector” have not had much print last year. We are very busy in the last quarter producing leaflets, flyers, etc for Xmas sales, Christmas offers, Boxing Day sales then new year offers. This dis not happen

Response: Did the Government miss out the supply chain to the Retail and Hospitality sector?

Response: We tried but were told that we did not qualify!

Response: Why was that?

Response: There was funding available for British businesses through ERDF which is no longer available (but will hopefully be replaced) as funding from EU sources was instrumental in helping get LINIAN on its feet 

Response: I think there is lots of support - probably chiefly as a result of covid response not Brexit. Seeing lots of opportunities for my clients in everything from funding, grants, tax credit schemes and kickstarter employment schemes.

Response: More question than answer but has anyone used the Kickstart Scheme?

Response: We've started the process, it's ongoing as we speak

Response: What is the process like? and for those who don't know it can you summarise the scheme in a couple of lines?

Response: We've filled a form in given to us, which was sent off with confirmation, the team handling the kickstart scheme is working behind the scenes which is where we're at, at this stage In short, it's government support to create a job for an apprentice to 'kickstart' their career

Response: This is a big topic w. lots of detail. The avoidance of unfair subsidisation by member gov'ts was monitored by the EU & tho' changes will now happen going f'ward, it would probably raise the hackles of our largest trading p'ner if these were drastic...

Response: That certainly could be a challenge going forwards. Is it a question of how far it can be pushed without causing trouble?

Response: To an extent. It is important to pursue our newfound agility, because this is a competitive adv. In key areas, if first-mover statues raises hackles it may still be worthwhile pursuing initiatives as first-mover status may provide negotiating strength & long-term advantage.

Question two: Do most eligible companies claim R&D tax credits? If not why don’t they and how do they go about claiming these? 

Response: R&D tax credits were designed to boost innovation, supporting businesses that were being innovative and adding improvements to their products and processes. I know the criteria was very broad, but I have not worked on cases to get the credit applied...anyone?

Response: I have shown a case study of a Football club getting R&D credits for developing a coaching system, an author getting it for researching a book. If you are developing new products and innovating you can access it. Speak to a specialist

Response: Is it true that pretty much any company that has developed a product (or improved one) can claim R&D Tax Credits? and thats just in terms of manufacturing.

Response: yes I think the qualification criteria is pretty broad. https://www.govgrant.co.uk/research-and-development-tax-credits/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6Mrw_pCF7wIVV-3tCh1HkgzDEAAYAyAAEgKdz_D_BwE

Response: There are some specialists out there who work on a % of what you get as an R&D Tax Credit. Are these worth seeking out for businesses?

Response: If the RoI is good then it is an investment. 

Response: I have several associates that specialise in this area. They are often amazed that so few companies take up this funding opportunity. Speak to your accountant if they have not proposed this for you or get in a specialist

Response: If they are not, and they are doing R&D, they should be, and should speak to a specialist tax advisor. 

Response: As @NigelTPacker said, the take up seems to be low. The definition of what is R&D is very broad. Many businesses don't know they can actually get expert help with this for free.

Response: Is the availability of these credits promoted sufficiently so companies get to know about them?

Response: That is an excellent question. Availability is one part, applying for them is the second part. We've heard many stories of businesses who are entitled to them not knowing where to start.

Response: I think we are, personally I'm not too involved in that department, but we have a lot of Research and development happening within the factory, This is including the development of metal spinning beyond its current capabilities

Response: It is worth looking into, especially if you are already innovating in terms of processes or development

Response: Pretty sure most don't. I'm seeing lots more opportunity to do this, and impacting on more areas of the business over the traditional capex investments. Maybe it's the bureaucracy or the feeling that nothing is actually free. Or maybe businesses are just in survival mode.

Response: I read an article in @FSB_Voice that claimed as much as 40% of ‘incorporated new-to-market innovators’ are not aware of R&D. We encourage our clients to investigate their eligibility and we support them in some parts of their claim if they need it.

Response: That is a staggeringly high figure, and even more interesting for start-ups, they're the ones who need the help. How can that be rectified do you think?

Response: Yes, I did read that article too!

Response: Does this highlight a need for some education and promotion of these credits?

Response: Yes we believe so. It's also quite a complicated and time-consuming process making a claim.

Response: Agreed. The time involved in putting together a claim for a grant, or any funding is time-consuming and also detailed. Not for the fainthearted, but then that is why it makes sense to get advice, support and assistance when you need it.

Response: FSB and other organisations can also help with the kickstart scheme as I have been investigating this and have clients who qualified through the fsb

Response: Do these companies do it themselves? so have to learn the process whilst they do it?

Response: What size of business does the FSB support up to?

Response: Up to 250 employees. Most are between 1 and 50 employees.

Response: Agreed. The time involved in putting together a claim for a grant, or any funding is time-consuming and also detailed. Not for the fainthearted, but then that is why it makes sense to get advice, support and assistance when you need it.

Response: There have been occasions with some clients having to wait over a year to get a grant. The window of opportunity being missed.

Response: It’s difficult to find out if we qualify, the information is quite daunting

Response: In my experience, there are a lot of companies with eligible spend that haven't applied for this - I think from a combination of thinking it relates only to high level scientific R&D or confusion over the process.

Response: We know of companies that work with manufacturers to help them get R&D Tax Credits. We're always amazed at how hard they have to work to get clients, we'd always expect companies to be actively seeking help to get what they are entitled to.

Response: Yes I find it amazing too - I think the scope is so much broader than anyone expects that people don't even consider it. Maybe it is misnamed slightly? Or maybe just not publicised well enough.

Response: There are a recent explosion of 'experts' filling the space, though, so the problem might soon be too much noise.

Response: I think you are right about the name, I'm guessing many businesses think of R&D as labs, science etc?

Response: Yes absolutely - and rule themselves out right from the start.

Response: I am surprised the takeup is low. We have supported clients with successful claims, engaging specialist support as required. Claim eligibility is assessed case by case, but if you are pursuing innovation that is not certain to be successful you should look into it.

Response: How do your clients find out about the R&D tax credits?

Response: We stick close to the work that our clients are doing, talking often & refreshing mgt accounts monthly using Cloud s/ware. If we are aware that there is investment taking place to achieve s'thing new, we ask more q.s to see whether we should be looking at claiming.

Question three: What support would you like to see UK government give to British manufacturers?

Response: I think exporting to the EU is going to be needed to looked at sooner rather than later? How many other exporters have their good sitting in warehouses waiting on customs?

Response: Resolve the border issues to help make it easier to export to Europe? European manufacturers receive grants to purchase new machinery / buildings etc. from their respective governments to help support job creation, expansion etc. We would like to see the same in the UK

Response: We all need to email our MP's, firstly tell them how wonderful they are. Then ask them to talk to freight forwarders? Ask them how they are going to solve the problem of exporting to the EU? Cornish were experts at smuggling stuff in. But I am not sure about smuggling stuff out?

Response: What is the view of the freight forwarders? is this actually more revenue earning work for them at the moment or just one big headache?

Response: In my knowledge many are refusing at the moment to ship to France due to the customs backlog. Yes they surely have increased revenue, but mainly in storage charges!

Response: The support should cover the following areas: Skills training Capital equipment Export Innovation If SME's in need could access a universal soft loan, most would see an RoI before they had to start paying it back

Response: It would be good to have support programmes for both SMEs & larger business. With Brexit & COVID19 challenges stacking up, the challenges are similar: continued access to market, investment to grow, training of resources, supporting programmes with apprentices...

Response: We have written to the Prime Minister, Business Secretary & our local MP on issues with exporting into the EU. The government needs to address these problems. Also, business rates on manufacturing units. This seems to have been overlooked. We have had no reply to date

Response: The UK gov't should be very active at enabling participation of its co's in a market that will be looking to capitalise on its exit from the EU. Gov't should also be able to move faster than the EU in some instances wrt int'l trade opportunities.

Question four: What useful non-financial schemes or support is available for British manufacturers that you could direct others to?

Response: This Government website may be of help to start. You can filter for the different types of support. https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support

Response: Like Nigel suggested start with the government site and also look at your industry federations.

Join Made in Britain on Twitter at 1pm every Thursday for #madeinbritainhour. We engage with everybody, members and non-members alike (some of whom become members as a result). Hopefully, see you there.

By Made in Britain 6 months ago | Made in Britain news

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