The Department for Enterprise has announced several changes to one of its most popular business support schemes, the Micro Business Grant Scheme. The changes will build on the continued success of the scheme in recent years, which has helped create over 150 small businesses on Island in the last two years.
Key features of the scheme include:
Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for Enterprise, commented:
‘The Micro Business Grant Scheme has been in operation for more than 20 years and has a proven track record in supporting a large number of start-up businesses, with a high level of survival rates and customer satisfaction. During the last financial year, we signed a record number of 88 contracts, with double the number of businesses going through the scheme now compared to several years ago. As a Department we continue to adapt and evolve –embracing change and seeking new opportunities to better support our thriving business community. The changes will hopefully help more individuals and businesses reach their potential here in the Isle of Man.’
Lawrie Hooper MHK, Member with responsibility for Enterprise Support at the Department for Enterprise, commented:
‘As part of the review of all our Enterprise Support schemes we listened to previous scheme attendee feedback and believe these changes will attract a broader range of interest and provide more options and flexibility to business owners. These changes are particularly advantageous for individuals currently in employment who are looking to take their first steps into self-employment. We believe these changes will be well received and will help maintain the success of the scheme.’
From 1st November 2018, a number of changes will come into effect. These include offering flexible training days. Previously training was offered in two parts, over five days. Approximately 21 hours of training will be offered over five or six days, with flexible training schedules including morning, weekend and twilight sessions, giving applicants a choice of sessions to meet their needs.
A further addition to the scheme is an enhanced rate of financial support of up to £15,000 initially targeted at exporters and childcare providers and nurseries. A recent report undertaken by the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee highlighted the acute shortage of nursery and child care facilities for 0-5 and under 2 year olds across the Island. The introduction of the enhanced support forms part of a wider Government strategy to stimulate economic growth, as the shortage of childcare facilities is seen as a factor that could potentially prevent parents returning to work and new workers looking to relocate to the Island.
Several of the eligibility requirements will also change. Previously, applicants required an annual turnover of less than £50,000. This will increase to £100,000 and a minimum turnover figure of £5,000 has been introduced, to encourage more established employing businesses to apply.
The Department also recognised that many small business owners still worked in full time employment. As a result, the requirement to work in excess of 30 hours a week on the business has been removed, helping to make the transition from full time employment to self-employment far smoother.
A number of other changes have been introduced to make the scheme simpler, more flexible and accessible to applicants. These include flexible mentoring periods and a simplified grant claiming process.
For more information, please visit www.iomdfenterprise.im/micro