LEP to launch resource efficiency fund to cut SME fuel costs

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A service to help small and medium-sized businesses cut energy costs is due to be launched by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The Resource Efficiency Fund was initially announced as part of the LEP’s Growth Deal in July.

LEP board member Paul Hamer said the scheme would see experts advise companies on how best to reduce carbon footprint.

The value of support will equate to £8,500 for each business helped, Mr Hamer said.

He said: “We’ve got a panel of experts who will go and visit businesses on their premises and essentially look at carbon footprint, wastage, power usage.

“Their job is to look at how we can eradicate cost from those small businesses in terms of operational running costs.”

Speaking at an Association of Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) event, hosted by Pinsent Masons in Leeds, Mr Hamer said improving the competitiveness of SMEs means the LEP can support them into growth.

“If we make them more competitive, we can support them in being more successful,” he said.

“And if they’re more successful, they’ll make contributions to GVA (Gross Value Added) and hopefully they’ll create growth opportunity where they can bring apprentices in and create new jobs.”

The service is now conducting market research with SMEs ahead of launch, an LEP spokeswoman said.

Mr Hamer, chief executive at engineering consultancy WYG, urged small businesses to access projects through Leeds City Region’s online hub.

“There’s a central hub now that all enquiries come through,” he said. You can then see which opportunities are coming up, how it’s being procured, the timelines it’s being procured.

“So for a small business, my advice would be don’t spend a huge amount of time trying to get into the LEP or talk to the LEP, go through the Hub.

“It’s a key fundamental point of how business can access some of this that’s going on.”

Mr Hamer was speaking at the official launch meeting for the ACE Northern Region Group.

In September, The Yorkshire Post revealed plans for a group to improve the sector’s regional representation, with WYG director Marc Davies acting as chairman.

The ACE’s first Northern-focused group aims to help businesses make the most out of large-scale infrastructure projects, including HS2.

“One of the reasons WYG, with Marc and my help, is sponsoring this is because we want a bigger voice up here in the North about how we get hold of some of this infrastructure spend,” Mr Hamer said.

Over 80 per cent of ACE members are SMEs with fewer than 50 employees, Mr Hamer said.

“More than 80 per cent of our members are small businesses who are looking for help, advice, direction to funding, how do they go about training people, HR advice, people who can read contracts for them,” he said.

The group will have a strong focus on devolution and skills, Mr Davies added.

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The ACE Northern Region Group will represent the industry in regional devolution and infrastructure spending debates, its chairman said.

Marc Davies, head of geo-environment and waste resources at WYG, said: “The concept of the Northern Powerhouse could play a vital role in the infrastructural and economic future for the North of England.”

Mr Davies said he would focus on helping businesses to work together “properly and fully”.

Davies will oversee policy for housing, education, employment, and infrastructure across the region. The group will also work to support graduates and young engineers.