The Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF) has been created to support local economies that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of HS2 from London to West Midlands.

Applications will be invited for capital or revenue funding from £10,000 up to a maximum of £250,000. Through this funding, we are looking to fund interventions that will have a positive impact on local economies (this may include a number of small schemes that are brought together in a package of interventions).

Note: We want to assure potential applicants that rigorous management of the funding available will ensure that money is available throughout the construction and there will be no advantages of submitting early or disadvantages of submitting them later during the construction period.

Who can apply for funding?

Primarily this funding programme is targeted at organisations which have formal objectives that support the development of local business/tourism.

You are eligible to apply for funding if your organisation is formally established for public benefit and is not for profit.

Other organisations may be eligible to apply for funding too eg non-statutory bodies who have a governing document. More information on eligible organisations is included in the guidance document.

We will not directly fund individuals, limited liability partnerships, private sector company/business or any organisation that cannot demonstrate appropriate governance.

Examples of BLEF projects:

The below examples are illustrative and we look to local business support organisations, including Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Trade Associations to identify appropriate projects which will help maintain business activity in local communities disrupted by the construction of HS2.

  • General promotional activity for local economic benefit such as running ‘open for business’ campaigns or implementing town/village discount cards to retain spend in local areas;
  • Creating and running events that maintain or increase regular footfall, or promote business activity (for example, summer festivals, farmers markets or Christmas events);
  • Projects that aim to maintain or increase tourist visits to an area;
  • Enhancements to public realm*1 around local economic centres*2 or destinations to encourage footfall to the area (for example, for a concentration of independent food retailers, a place of heritage if it is a tourist attraction that benefits the local economy or an area’s night-time economy);
  • Business support services and training for disrupted businesses, for example providing advice and guidance covering current business development issues.

How to apply

Always contact Groundwork UK directly if you have any questions about the Fund as guidance given to applicants can differ depending on a range of factors such as the type of organisation applying, the type of project and the geography of the project.

Step 1

Read the guidance notes and FAQs

Before applying, we expect that all applicants read the BLEF Guidance Notes, FAQs, view sample application forms and read the application Help Notes for more detail about the Fund and project eligibility.

Step 2

Understand the application process

The application process is different according to the amount of funding you are seeking for your project. Our flowcharts explain it all and how long you will need to wait.

Step 3

Take the eligibility quiz

This short quiz will check that your project meets the basic requirements to be eligible for funding. If your project meets the criteria you will be then given a link to the application form.

Alternative and Accessible Formats

If you experience or anticipate any barriers with our application process, require help to make an application, or accessing our services and information, please contact us to discuss the type of support we can provide.