“Not a question of if, but when” – Minister confirms Economic Resilience Fund 4 will take place
A fourth tranche of business support will take place in Wales with another Economic Resilience Fund round to open for expressions of interest ‘in the coming weeks’.
So far there have been three ‘phases’ of the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF), with the latest business development grants section of ERF3 being massively over subscribed. The demand for the Business Development Grant element of the Economic Resilience Fund has been described as “exceptional” with nearly 6,000 applications received and was paused. However, that pause does not affect the first and much larger element of the fund – the £200m ERF Lockdown Business Fund which remains open.
Economy Minister Ken Skates made the announcement of a new phase at the lunchtime Welsh Government briefing.
He said: “I can tell you today that we are actively considering the economic position and how future packages of support can support our Covid response and the end of the transition period.
“I’m pleased to confirm my colleague the Finance Minister has set aside funding for a fourth phase of the Economic Resilience Fund to support businesses and employees. We are currently developing a mechanism for businesses to express an interest in that fund in the coming weeks and we will keep businesses updated through Business Wales online.”
“This will ensure that those businesses who have not yet been able to successfully apply for business development grants can continue to make plans for the future.
“I want to be clear, this should also indicate to the UK Government the scale of the challenge that we face.
“The greatest risk to the economy is in not doing enough, soon enough, to support businesses, which is why we immediately mobilised Business Wales, the Development Bank of Wales and partners in local governments at the outset of this pandemic, armed with the United Kingdom’s most generous and comprehensive package of support here in Wales.”
“We are doing everything we can as a devolved government to help businesses through these difficult times and to position it well for the future, but there is more the UK government can do to help in that task.”
Mr Skates said that £300m had been ‘set aside’ for the new tranche, and asked those who may have not been able to bid for ERF3 to keep their bids ready to go,” I would urge them to keep all of the documentation that they have gathered together”. It appears that part of the ‘expressions of interest’ could see a pre-scrutinising of bids before the formal launch of the fund itself.
This afternoon we asked the minister about the probable ERF4, and if there were there any time frames for its introduction.
He said: “I’m currently assessing the options for ERF4. It’s not a question of if, but when given that we face huge challenges in the months to come, not just concerning Coronavirus, but also the end of the transition period.”
“The third phase of the Economic Resilience Fund, those business development grants, were designed to help businesses make plans for the future, future proof themselves in light of the end of the transitional period, not just in order to deal with coronavirus.
“So, the fourth phase of the Economic Resilience Fund, we envisage it supporting businesses in those dual challenges of overcoming the transition period and whatever happens next, and of course dealing with coronavirus.”
You can view the full briefing, along with the full Q&A on the video below:
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Cynhadledd i’r Wasg byw gyda’r Gweinidog Economi, Ken Skates | Live Press Conference with Economy Minister, Ken Skates https://t.co/ucEY0qCNMn
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) November 5, 2020