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SEEDA Announces New Finance for Small Businesses

25 November 2008

SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency, is being given a pivotal role in rolling out the Government’s plans to support small businesses, as announced in Monday’s Pre-Budget Report.

SEEDA will provide up to £3m in transition loan funds, available through Finance South East, to be used to help high-growth businesses having difficulty obtaining finance from the commercial sector. The unsecured loans of up to £150,000 will be available in the form of commercial loans to bridge the gap between the amount the banks are able to offer businesses and the amount these businesses need to survive and grow. Recipients will not repay any capital or interest until the end of the loan period.

Pam Alexander, SEEDA Chief Executive, said: "At a time when businesses are finding it hard to secure the loans they need from the banks, this fund will ensure they don’t suffer as a consequence. This will help high-growth businesses in the South East start to access the money they need to survive and emerge stronger in the upturn."

SEEDA will also be contributing to the £50m equity scheme put together jointly by the Government and eight English Regional Development Agencies, which will be used to convert businesses’ debts into equity. This fund will be targeted at small businesses which are unable to service their borrowing, and can sustain equity to enable them to restructure their balance sheets and access more credit where needed.

Jim Brathwaite, Chairman of SEEDA, added: "We are delighted that priority has been given to the provision of access to finance for small businesses, with £1 billion in guarantees for borrowing and a further £1 billion in guarantees for exports, which the RDAs are supporting. The Government has responded to our recommendations following discussions with business leaders across the South East and in other regions. We are very pleased that small businesses will also be allowed to spread business tax payments to help ease cash flow and credit constraints."

Jonathan Shaw, Minister for the South East, concluded: "The Government and SEEDA are working together with this wide range of measures to prioritise access to crucial finance to sustain and grow small businesses across the South East region. These initiatives present a great opportunity for SEEDA to use its wealth of business expertise, experience and strategic leadership to navigate and succeed in these unique and challenging economic circumstances."

Together these new measures will provide at least an additional £5m for small businesses across the South East. This is in addition to the £10m Rapid Rescue Response package announced by SEEDA in August. This support includes:


Robust Business Development

  • A new element to the ‘Designing Demand’ programme called ‘Immerse’ which will provide intensive, extended design support to selected larger businesses;
  • An International Trade Mentor allocated to every new or recent inward investor in the South East;
  • A new ‘Soft Landing’ programme for inward investors to be piloted through Locate in Kent;
  • A regional media campaign to highlight the importance of sound business plans, followed by a series of events targeted at SMEs.


Developing Overseas Trade

  • Passport to Export to provide new support for firms investing in Research and Development specifically to reach overseas markets;
  • An advanced package of support to be offered directly to all 1500 businesses which have graduated from Passport to Export;
  • Immediate extensive research carried out by the 7 Sector Consortia to enable them to identify global markets and sectors offering the best trading opportunities for their members.


Encouraging Investment

  • Extending capital grants under the Grant for Business Investment scheme to the entire South East for eligible SMEs with long-term viability whose investment plans are being held up by current economic conditions; Businesses who think they may be eligible for support should contact their local Business Link.
  • A new £3 million Commercialisation Fund to support businesses with high growth potential to bring new products and services to market as part of the £20 million South East Funding Escalator. Businesses who think they may be eligible for support should contact Finance South East.


Related contacts:

Business Link: 0845 600 9 006

Finance South East: 01344 758540


For media queries, please contact

Roy Sutherwood
Phone: 01483 484 200
Email: pressoffice@seeda.co.uk

James Fulker
Phone: 01483 484 200
Email: pressoffice@seeda.co.uk


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For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155