The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is to launch a new initiative to encourage business productivity and close the gap between that of the area and the national average.

Working in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the LEP will support firms in the region with capital grant investment.

The pilot will award capital grants to companies that can demonstrate investments which lead to improved productivity.

Qualifying businesses will need to maintain headcount and demonstrate activities which complement the investment and productivity.

The pilot began on 17 September, and businesses are invited to bid for a share of the £500,000 available.

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Companies can apply for grants of between £25,000 and £100,000 before it ends on 14 December 2018.

“Boosting productivity is a top priority for the Combined Authority and LEP to develop a strong, socially inclusive economy that works for everyone in the region,” said Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, chair of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council.

“Productivity gains in Leeds City Region and the North of England will benefit local people through increased living standards and better jobs.

“Strengthening the region’s economy will in turn create a significant lift to the national economy, improving competiveness and driving growth.

“The pilot will help the LEP and wider City Region to capture practical learning, better meet the needs of businesses and be at the forefront of developing evidence-led interventions on productivity that can be used to inform national policy decisions.”

Roger Marsh, OBE, chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership added: “Bold long lasting steps are needed to address the UK’s productivity levels, including putting in place a long-term approach to help SME owners invest in training, research and development and innovation.

“This pilot will allow the LEP to test the best approaches to drive productivity – led by and for the private sector.”

“These capital grants - to invest in new machinery, equipment and fit-out - further strengthen the LEPs support offer to businesses. I encourage all firms across the region to pick up the phone and find out more.”