Manchester City Council Report for Information. Overview and Scrutiny Business Start Up Task and Finish Group 1 February 2012

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1 Manchester City Council Report for Information Report To: Subject: Report of: Overview and Scrutiny Business Start Up Task and Finish Group 1 February 2012 Access to Finance for Start Up Businesses Interim Head of Regeneration Summary This report outlines what financial support is available to aspiring and new start up businesses. More detailed contributions will be made during the meeting. Recommendations Members are requested to note the information in this report. Wards Affected: All Contact Officers: Name: Angela Harrington Position: Interim Head of Regeneration Telephone: Name: Karin Connell Position: Regeneration Co-ordinator Telephone:

2 1 Introduction 1.1 The Economy Employment and Skills (EES) Overview and Scrutiny Committee decided to set up a Task and Finish Group to explore issues around start up support. The Terms of Reference and the draft Work Programme for the group were adopted on 7 September. 1.2 At its first meeting on 1 December the Group was provided with an overview of business start up provision. The second meeting took place on 20 December and discussed barriers that specific resident groups may face when accessing these services and explored how the Council s procurement practices support growth in small businesses. On 4 January the meeting focused on the formal and informal support offered through community organisations and other channels including Registered Providers. 1.3 The fourth meeting, on 1 February, will explore what financial support is available for aspiring and new start up businesses. 2 Background 2.1 Section 2 provides a brief chronological account of some of the main issues around start up provision and access to finance. 2.2 Financial lending to companies has decreased since late Research by the NWDA suggested that in 2010, 34% of Northwest companies who applied for finance from banks were turned down. Locally, 31% of businesses that took part in the 2011 Manchester Business Survey identified lack of availability of finance as a key barrier to growth. 2.3 However, at the same time the British Banking Association stated that banks had seen a steady decline in the demand for business loans over the previous three years as market uncertainty deters long-term investment decisions and the cost of lending has increased. 2.4 This prompted the Government to prioritise policies and measures to improve access to finance to stimulate business growth. 2.5 Following a consultation in 2010 Financing Business Growth The Government s Response to a Private Sector Recovery to assess the effectiveness of the market in providing finance to business, the following measures were announced: To continue and expand the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme until 2014/15 To set up the Business Finance Taskforce to oversee the running of the 1.5bn Business Growth Fund To set up a network of High Growth Hubs to provide strategic advice and coaching (see section 5 below). 2.6 This followed the earlier introduction of: 7

3 A reduction in the rates of corporation tax An extension of the entrepreneurs relief from capital gains tax The introduction of a regional NI holiday for new businesses An increase of the threshold at which employers start paying NI contributions 2.7 Further streamlining of publicly funded business support products under the Solutions for Business brand and the abolition of RDAs and regional Business Link advisory services meant that the Access to Finance service and the Intensive Start Up Support (ISUS) Programme were ended in These changes did not affect the North West Fund, set up by the NWDA to provide debt and equity finance for start up and existing businesses. 2.8 In January 2011, the Government announced its initiative Bigger, Better Business Helping small firms start, grow and prosper including measures to replace ISUS: Introduction of the national Business Start Up Hub on the new national Business Link web site with a contact centre to support the online service Expansion of the New Enterprise Allowance scheme to support the creation of 40,000 new businesses. NEA is aimed at people claiming JSA for between 6 12 month and offers: o Start up support and access to a mentor o A weekly allowance equivalent to a maximum of 100% JSA over the first 3 months and 50% JSA over the last 3 months. o Access to a small loan of 1,000. Be the Boss, a national start up programme for ex-service personnel that provides start up support and grants and loans of up to 30,000. An intention to consider tailored start up support for women and BME communities Business Coaching for Growth to be delivered as a key part of the Growth Hub 2.9 In November 2011, the Government announced the results of round 2 of the Regional Growth Fund: 10M funding for a national start up programme to be delivered locally by members of the National Enterprise Agency Network. 5.6M funding for the Manchester Loan Fund, a public/private sector fund of 13M that will provide loans of up to 50K. No funding for the successor programme of the ISUS programme in Greater Manchester Around the same time, as part of regional transition arrangements, Manchester Solutions confirmed that it would take over: The Business Link Access to Finance service which included the staff who delivered the service. The operation of the NW Business Angels Network. 8

4 2.11 In December 2011, the European Commission published its Action Plan to improve and expand the Venture Capital market and help Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to access more financial resources: The European Investment Bank will maintain its SME loan activity and loan guarantees will be extended to cultural and creative sectors. Increased resources will also be made available for microfinance and for research and innovation-driven enterprises The European Commission will facilitate access to EU financial instruments by reinforcing the financial advisory capacity of the Enterprise Europe Network, bringing together 600 business support organisations and providing a single online portal on EU financial instruments. It is also adopting a regulation on Social Entrepreneurship Funds, designed to allow schemes investing in social enterprises to raise funds and invest across Europe The remainder of this report highlights some of the key initiatives and sources of funding for start up and newly trading businesses. 3 Access to Finance Northwest 3.1 Access to Finance Northwest is the product name for the Access to Finance service that, together with the NW Business Angels, transferred from Business Link Northwest to Manchester Solutions in Manchester Solutions is reconfiguring the existing service so that it best promotes the range of public funds available, systematically diagnoses need, focuses upon the investmentreadiness of businesses and develops stronger partnerships with the private finance sector for the purpose of handling their declines. 3.2 The service is free of charge for start ups and SMEs (excluding retail and sensitive sectors) and offers group support (Investment Readiness workshops) and one to one assistance including: Assessment of financial position and funding requirement Development of business plans with financial and other supporting information Identification of the finance products Coaching and mentoring to develop an investment proposition and pitch presentation Introductions to suitable finance providers Support at meetings with lenders and investors Commercial banks complement the service through managed referrals of their declines. 3.3 The Access to Finance Team will identify appropriate finance products ranging from mainstream lending and facilities from banks and finance houses to solutions such as the loan element of the New Enterprise Allowance, the Small Loans for Business Scheme, Business Angels and the North West Fund. 9

5 3.4 If financial advisers identify non-financial needs, clients will be referred to the Business Growth Hub or, where appropriate, directly to a private or public sector provider. 4 Sources of Finance 4.1 A key component of the GM business finance strategy is to increase the scale of alternative finance available and to create the Manchester Loan Fund. Endorsed by Mark Prisk MP, DBIS Minister for Small Business and Enterprise, the Manchester Loan Fund (MLF) creates a unique public / private partnership by blending publicly sourced finance, already in place and enhanced through the successful 5m Round 2 RGF application (subject to due diligence) and ERDF, with private investment via financial investment institutions and commercial borrowing. The MLF will also act as a catalyst for investment, by leveraging finance from other providers of finance in the market, whether they are commercial or bodies like NWF. The MLF complements and develops the principles of the Small Loans for Business scheme (4.3 below) by offering sub 50k loans to start-up and existing GM businesses, through a scaled recycling loan fund. 4.2 JSA claimants on the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme can apply for a 1K loan once they have a business plan in place that has been endorsed by their mentor. The NEA loan scheme in Greater Manchester is administered by Manchester Solutions. 4.3 The Small Loans for Business scheme provides loans of between 3,000 and 50,000 to new and growing businesses, charities and social enterprises when conventional sources of finance have been declined. In the Northwest, the scheme is delivered by five Community Finance Development Institutions (CDFIs) in Manchester by Manchester Solutions. 4.4 There are also a number of loan and equity funds specifically aimed at social entrepeneurs and social enterprises. They include the Social Enterprise Investment Fund, The Social Enterprise Loan Fund for the North West and the Big Issue Invest Social Enterprise Investment Fund. 4.5 Business Angels are an important but still under-utilised source of money for new and growing businesses. They are high net worth individuals who invest on their own, or as part of a syndicate, in growth businesses. In addition to money, Business Angels often make their own skills, experience and contacts available to the company. A typical Business Angel makes one or two investments in a three-year period, typically between 10,000 and 750,000 each. Manchester Solutions are now looking to develop the scale and impact of the NW Business Angels and improve how this service is linked to and supported by the NW Access to Finance Service, the range of business support services emerging by the Business Growth Hub and other Business Angel Networks. 4.6 The North West Fund was set up by the NWDA and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It provides loan and equity funding 10

6 from 50K to 2M for start up and established businesses. The fund is suitable for most businesses, the main exceptions being retail and sensitive sectors. It cannot invest in re-financing existing commercial borrowings or in failing businesses. The North West Fund consists of six funds: Venture Capital Fund, Development Capital Fund, Business Loans and mixed funds in three priority sectors (energy and environmental; biomedical; digital and creative). 4.7 A significant future source of finance for start ups may be credit unions which until now could only lend to individuals who had a common bond i.e. lived in the same area or worked for the same employer. On 8 January, credit unions were given a range of new legal powers including the right to lend to organisations such as community groups, companies, social enterprises, religious groups and local authorities. Credit unions may become a real alternative to high street banks, the above schemes and, importantly, to payday lenders and loan sharks particularly for start ups from disadvantaged communities. South Manchester Credit Union is considering extending its services accordingly. 4.8 Further detail will be provided by Manchester Solutions at the meeting of 1 February. 5 The Business Growth Hub 5.1 The North West Regional Leaders Board agreed to the development of a network of Growth Hubs across the Northwest. These hubs will acts as the focal point for start ups and businesses that demonstrate growth potential. The GM Growth Hub has been developed by Manchester Solutions and is the key component of the GM Business Growth Strategy. 5.2 At the heart of the Hub are: A Core Team of staff and advisors that delivers an IT and telephone based assessment and referral service and a programme of campaigns and events. A network of partners committed to helping businesses to grow. They include: business mentors, coaches, banks and finance providers, universities, innovation specialists, lawyers, marketing agencies, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, local authorities, publicly funded business support services such as Access to Finance Northwest, UK Trade and Investment, Coaching for Growth and the Manufacturing Advisory Service. 5.3 The role of partners is to: Refer clients with potential or identified needs to the Core Team and/or, Receive referrals from the Core Team and deliver advice and support services on a wide range of topics including finance, innovation and training. These services can be free, subsidised or fully charged. 5.4 The Growth Hub was launched in November 2011 and the early stages of its development have focused on coordinating a range of private and public 11

7 services local and national services and in securing a variety of public and private resources to support the development and operation of the Hub. 5.5 The next stage is to develop the GM Business Growth Strategy such that the Hub can: Deepen its diagnostic and advisory services to identify the growth barriers of businesses and actions and services to address these. Expand existing and introduce new services to broaden the support available for businesses that are major providers of employment and GVA, with a particular focus upon improving their trading and exporting. Build on Manchester s success in attracting foreign inward investment to create additional and new employment opportunities. Work with existing business-finance providers to further expand and simplify access to finance. Maximise the employment growth potential arising out of the development of Greater Manchester s low-carbon economy. Support employers to take a greater role in commissioning the support they require for their workforce development and to implement high performing workplace strategies. Revitalise the business base of our district and town centres. 5.6 The Growth Hub will closely link with a new GM Start Up programme, a partnership delivery model that is likely to commence in early Summer Further detail about the Growth Hub and GM start up provision has been provided in a separate paper to be presented by Manchester Solutions on 1 February. 6 Conclusion 6.1 The abolition of RDAs and regional Business Links together with the further rationalisation of start up and business support services under Solutions for Business means that publicly funded provision has been reduced in scale with the main focus being on supporting high growth businesses. In contrast the previous Business Link model catered for most businesses and brokered to a wide range of appropriate private sector and all publicly funded business support providers. 6.2 Government has taken a series of measures to improve access to finance and to lessen the financial burden on businesses. It is making the regulatory framework and the tax regime more (small) business friendly, has extended existing sources of finance and facilities and introduced new ones. 6.3 In Greater Manchester the Business Growth Hub will provide co-ordinated support for start ups and SMEs with growth potential. Services will be delivered by a network of private and public sector partners which will be free, subsidised or fully charged. 6.4 Key challenges for the Growth Hub and stakeholders will be to identify and attract latent growth potential especially in sectors not normally associated 12

8 with growth; and to work with local authorities in safeguarding jobs in businesses that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the economic recession. 6.5 The Business Link NW Access to Finance service has transferred to Manchester Solutions and this fully funded service is being delivered as Access to Finance Northwest. 6.6 Manchester Solutions will set up the Manchester Loan Fund that will offer sub 50K loans to GM businesses. The fund will be a mix of existing and new public and private finance. 6.7 Despite a decrease in high street lending there is a wide range of alternative finance options available to start ups and established businesses. 6.8 On 8 January 2012 credit unions were given new legal powers to enable them to also start lending to start ups and companies. South Manchester Credit Union is considering extending its services accordingly. 6.9 Manchester City Council will continue to work with strategic partners, providers and third sector organisations in addressing gaps and inefficiencies in provision, ensuring that local priorities and needs are met and in minimising the negative impacts of changes to the business support environment on Manchester s start up and business base. Supporting the resilience of our District Centres remains a key priority. 13

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