The Birmingham Post has been handed control of a £5m fund to distribute to local businesses in the West Midlands.
Newcastle’s The Journal has also been handed £3m from phase two of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), a £1.4bn scheme designed to help regional businesses access capital.
In phase one of the initiative, unveiled in April, the Post’s sister title the Liverpool Echo and Northcliffe’s Western Morning News received around £1m each to allocate to local firms.
Under the Post’s winning scheme businesses will be invited to apply to the newspaper for smaller grants which are not available directly from the Government.
The minimum bid that can be paid by the RGF is £1m, which the Post said “effectively excluded” small business and this was the reason why the Government looked to partner with organisations that have ‘strong links to business communities in their region’to help distribute grants.
The Minister for Business and Enterprise, Mark Prisk, told the Post:’There was concern that by having a sensible threshold of a million – so that we aren’t spending a lot of money proportionately on the administration of those very small schemes – that we might rule out the opportunity to help with local programmes with small and medium sized enterprises.
‘So several newspaper groups have stepped up to the plate and offered to co-ordinate the funding.”
Since making its winning bid earlier this year the Liverpool Echo has been handing out grants of between £10,000 and £100,000.
Prisk said: ‘If you are dealing with a £1.4 billion fund then you can’t start sending out packages of £10,000 because the cost of administering that doesn’t make sense.
‘So the Birmingham Post have stepped in.”
The Post was one of 22 schemes in the West Midlands which will receive £100m between them.