An extension to the Manufacturing Growth Programme will give SME manufacturers in England a chance to access an extra £6.5m to help them recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), which is funded by ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and delivered by Oxford Innovation Services, has been extended until December 2022 and will give a further 2800 companies access to industry experts and grants to tackle immediate business issues and support improvement plans.
This additional backing is likely safeguard/create 3500 new jobs and will take the total package of support to £18.3m across 17 regions, with businesses in Sheffield able to apply for the first time.
Firms are given access to a dedicated local Manufacturing Growth Manager, who will use GROWTHmapper (a diagnostic tool specifically designed for manufacturing businesses) to develop an individual action plan and support a range of business projects.
“All the media attention is on the headline manufacturers and how they are coping in the wake of Covid-19…it’s our job to look at how the smaller manufacturers supporting these big businesses are performing and what we can do to help them,” said Martin Coats, Managing Director of the Manufacturing Growth Programme.
“Helping manufacturers is not easy and you need a tailored approach, delivered by experts who know what it is like working in industry. The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), their local Growth Hubs and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have seen first-hand the value we add to firms in their respective areas and this has resulted in a further commitment to support us for another two and a half years.”
A recent survey delivered by MGP, in partnership with South West Manufacturing Advisory Service, is said to have revealed an urgent need for greater and faster financial support from the government as they confront falling sales, production volumes and the prospect of job cuts amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is no great surprise to see that every indicator for confidence among firms appears to have worsened over the last six months. That said, it is heartening to see that some companies are adapting to the situation by diversifying their processes and product ranges in all manner of innovative ways,” Coats said in a statement.
“While the number of projects we have supported has been maintained since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, demand has shifted from the larger SMEs towards micro businesses.
“This has also led to a change in the type of assistance. There is more demand for shorter-term marketing and product development projects and less for productivity and capacity building projects.
“As the economy recovers, it will be important to shift this pattern back, ensuring that support reaches larger SME manufacturers as well and delivers projects that rebuild capacity. MGP is more important than ever in achieving this.”
Going forward, the Manufacturing Growth Programme will be working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to support the recovery of English manufacturers.