KCC is taking the lead in a new project providing support to businesses and individuals facing challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
C-Care is a cross-Channel Interreg project, led by KCC and run by four English and three French partner organisations, working with a wider network of stakeholders.
Drawing on a range of expertise from local government, enterprise and tourism in the UK and France, the project will support people at risk of exclusion from the labour market and businesses at risk of closure.
C-CARE (Covid Channel Area Response Exchange) aims to reach 4,500 people and almost 2,000 businesses in France and England through its pilot initiatives which include skills training to help individuals find new routes into employment or starting a business, and advice and grants aimed at helping companies reset their business models in response to the pandemic.
Derek Murphy, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This new project will provide a welcome boost for Kent businesses from sectors hit hard by the pandemic by helping them in practical ways to transition back to growth.”
The project will start by reviewing some of the initiatives put in place to help businesses and individuals during the Covid-19 pandemic and will build on these to design and deliver a new range of schemes on both sides of the Channel.
The focus in Kent is business support and Kent County Council will deliver the following:
- A £350,000 ‘technology resilience’ voucher scheme led by Growth & Communities (formerly Economic Development) to enable 300 small businesses to enhance their digital capabilities and embed new ways of working.
- A £150,000 ‘green recovery’ voucher scheme run by the Sustainable Business team to help 100 small businesses to adopt more sustainable practices as they seek to recover and grow.
- ‘Covid-secure’ training support from Trading Standards to help 500 businesses in the home improvement & maintenance sector and restoring consumer confidence.
These schemes will launch after the summer and Kent businesses interested in finding out more can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The business support activities will be supported by a wider range of exchange activities on the 5 main themes of the project including:
- Direct support, vouchers and grants for businesses
- Skills & employment support for individuals
- Impacts on town centres and employment premises
- Tackling food poverty and access to public & community services
- Digital poverty & skills
The other partner organisations will be running pilot schemes under these headings and all activities will be part of the project’s evaluation which will make recommendations to shape future recovery initiatives. Kent stakeholders and wider KCC divisions will also be involved in project exchanges, reviews and workshops.
It is hoped that the insights and evidence gathered from both sides of the Channel will feed into local plans for Kent, to aid recovery and resilience planning and ensure measures are in place to support businesses and people adapt to future pandemics or economic shocks.
C-Care is funded by the France-Channel-England Interreg programme and the European Regional Development Fund. The two-year, £6 million project will be delivered by the seven partner organisations on both sides of the Channel with a budget of £1million allocated for Kent.