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New Business Support Service approved for South Cambridgeshire




A new Business Support Service that will aid local companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), is being established in South Cambridgeshire.

The district council’s cabinet has given the green light to the £200,000 service, which will feature a team of four officers.

Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell

They will be tasked with delivering practical advice and targeted support to existing and growing businesses in the district, aiding survival rates for new enterprises and aiding those looking to move into South Cambridgeshire.

The team will also help to promote the district’s three Enterprise Zones - Cambourne Business Park, Cambridge Research Park in Waterbeach and Northstowe - where benefits such as 100 per cent rate relief are available.

The service is seen in the context of a wider economic action plan for the Greater Cambridge area and the council’s vision for thriving village economies, where residents can work locally, buy what they need and access services they require while keeping their impact on the environment to a minimum.

Cllr Bridget Smith, the Liberal Democrat leader of the council, said: “Our villages have so many fantastic small and medium-sized businesses, world-renowned names, and farming, rural enterprise and tourism – and we want to ensure South Cambridgeshire is a place where they can all grow and prosper.

“I also want to ensure that our residents have the choice of working locally and avoiding long commutes to work which we know are detrimental to wellbeing and productivity as well as damaging to the environment.

“Our new, locally-focused Business Support Service will make a big difference. The new team will give us a much better understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing local companies, and then feed into decisions on how businesses will be affected by housing, transport and planning projects.

“A key pledge in our business plan is to grow local businesses and economies and I very much want to see this new team helping to create new jobs and opportunities near to where people live.”

Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell

When fully established, the team of four will:

  • Offer bespoke packages of support to small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Develop the Enterprise Zones and encourage more businesses to locate to them
  • Guide companies wishing to relocate to the district or move within it
  • Deliver activities to support local village economies
  • Develop environmentally-friendly tourism initiatives such as cycling and walking routes to encourage visitors into South Cambridgeshire communities
  • Provide guidance to companies on their response to the climate emergency, including advice on generating their own electricity, improving energy efficiency and recycling more waste and water
  • Make the entire council more ‘business friendly’, creating one point of contact for local companies and becoming a vital link for the authority to other business support organisations.

Recruitment will take place in the coming months. The team will work closely with

neighbouring councils and organisations such as the Chambers of Commerce, FSB, NFU and Visit Cambridge and Beyond.

The £200,000 cost is included in the 2020-21 budget, due to be voted on by the full council in February.

Enterprise Zones offer rate relief

The Cambridge Compass Enterprise Zone sites include Cambourne Business Park, Cambridge Research Park in Waterbeach and Northstowe.

Any business locating to any of the compass sites between April 2016 and March 2021 could potentially be eligible for 100 per cent relief on business rates.

Businesses hoping to benefit complete a questionnaire where they must satisfy the displacement criteria, demonstrating the additional business growth - in jobs or turnover - that will be achieved by relocating to the zone.

Consideration is given where there are existing constraints at a business’s current site and potential job losses if a company was to relocate outside the district.

The discount is applied after any other reliefs have been deducted. For example, if a business is eligible for small business rates relief, this will be deducted first.

Business can receive the discount on more than one property provided that both properties are situated within a designated area.

The amount that a company can receive is subject to the EU’s state aid rules.

More information on rate relief is on the council’s website.

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