Finance · 26 January 2017

Birmingham startups and enterprises receive local funding boost

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Victoria Square in Birmingham, where the council has pledged to support local business

The City Council in Birmingham has launched a new fund-raising campaign that could generate as much as £3m to help small businesses launch in the city.

The council has partnered with peer to peer lending platform ThinCats and the Aston Reinvest Trust (ACT) – a West Midlands community development fund – to help finance startups and social enterprise founders in the poorest parts of Birmingham.

Together with ART, Birmingham City Council has agreed to underwrite small business loans of between £10,000 and £150,000 for startup founders that would likely struggle to obtain a bank loan.

The partner organisations have set the target of raising £1m a year over the next three years, and have encouraged individuals and businesses to invest in the initiative.

In a statement, the city’s council leader John Clancy said: “This is a pioneering local investment opportunity and a chance for people to not only get a financial incentive in the form of a tax relief, but also a social return.”

Clancy confirmed that investors in the campaign would be able to claim a tax relief due to the connection with ART, which is a government-backed “community investment” tax relief initiative.

For instance, a £10,000 investment in the scheme will result in a tax rebate of £2,500 for higher rate taxpayers, spread over five years – the equivalent of £500 a year.

Clancy added: “Small and medium sized enterprises are the life blood of the local economy and their ability to grow, create inclusive economic growth and preserve jobs impacts everyone who lives and works in Birmingham”.

ThinCats founder and chairman Kevin Caley said that the new campaign offered investors a “low risk” opportunity with an attractive return from a tax perspective, that could be a “useful way to diversify an investment portfolio” as well as a chance to “put something back” into the UK’s so-called second city.

“Peer to peer finance has the potential to provide significant funding to Birmingham businesses if local individuals and businesses choose to invest in their city,” Caley went on to say.

The north-south divide in small business confidence has been revealed.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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