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Gatwick Diamond Initiative calls on Government to end apprenticeships funding fiasco



The Gatwick Diamond Initiative has called upon the Government to address the funding fiasco which will force universities in the area to abandon their degree apprenticeship programmes and colleges to reduce their apprenticeships offer to the small business community.

Following months of delays and problems with the tendering process, the Universities of Chichester and Brighton have been told that they will receive no funding to pay for non-levy Degree Apprenticeships.  For the University of Chichester, this will mean cancelling their current Digital and planned Engineering, Digital Marketing and Business Degree Apprenticeships to small businesses, leaving potential apprentices without positions and local businesses understaffed and  underskilled.

Following changes to the way in which apprenticeships are funded, smaller, non-levy paying businesses (i.e. those with pay bills under £3 million) share the cost of training and assessing their apprentices with government.  But in the latest funding allocation, the Gatwick Diamond has lost out to regions in the north, despite having a very high level of evidenced need for apprenticeships.

In a letter to the Rt. Hon. Anne Milton MP (Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills), Rosemary French OBE, Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, said:

“Over the past year, I have been promoting to businesses in the Gatwick Diamond the huge benefits of apprenticeships, in particular Degree Apprenticeships.  I have been working with Nescot, East Surrey and Crawley Colleges and the Universities of Brighton, Sussex and Chichester to stimulate demand among both non-levy and levy payers.  However, not one of the local universities has received funding in the latest government procurement exercise to allocate funding for non-levy payer apprenticeships.  The University of Chichester already has 60 Digital Degree Apprenticeships lined up and another 40 underway in local businesses.  New apprenticeships will not begin with small businesses, despite the area being desperate for digitally-qualified staff.  The University of Brighton has 70 apprentices already placed with smaller employers, all of whom will be told their training and employment relationship with the university must end.

“The funding debacle is not just about Degree Apprenticeships.  Apprenticeships at all levels will be severely curtailed as the Gatwick Diamond’s FE Colleges have received, on average, only half of the apprenticeship funding requested, despite clear evidence of need.  Colleges will therefore be forced to work only with larger, levy-paying employers, which will adversely impact the region’s smaller employers – a powerhouse of the local economy.”

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Crawley Borough Council award grants to two local businesses

Two business start-ups have got a leg up through Crawley Borough Council’s Small Business Grants Scheme.



The Company Connector Ltd and Haus of FLVR are the latest companies to benefit from a council grant, which awards small businesses with up £2,000.

Manor Royal-based business, The Company Connector Ltd, will support local businesses with finding new clients and opportunities as well as encouraging inward investment from overseas. The company has already supported a number of Crawley businesses on a consultancy basis and helped to generate new business.

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The council awarded The Company Connector Ltd with the maximum amount of £2,000, assisting the start-up and first year costs. The financial boost has helped to establish the brand, website and social media, along with the necessary furniture and computer equipment.

Jeremy Taylor, Managing Director of The Company Connector Ltd, said:

“I am delighted to have been awarded this grant, it will contribute towards the set up and immediate development plans of the business including our first mission to Austin, Texas.

“In addition, the grant will enable us to support local businesses reach overseas markets as well as encouraging inward investment from other business centres. I applaud the council for recognising it costs a lot to establish a business that creates new jobs; this assistance is well received”

Haus of FLVR, a company that produces high quality alcohol infused frozen goods, received £2,000 from the Small Business Grant Scheme. The businesses main aims are to create an exciting, affordable and aesthetically pleasing product that brings a fresh and fashionable approach to ice lollies and canapés.

Samara Gidden, Director of Haus of FLVR, said:

“We are thrilled to receive funding to help produce a creative packaging solution that is luxurious and eco-friendly – both prerequisites will work in cohesion.

“We look forward to developing our packaging further and drive our business forward.”

Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, Councillor Peter Smith, said: “I’m pleased that we can offer two start-up businesses a £2,000 grant.

“It’s important to support businesses in the initial stages; it helps them to get off the ground and positively contributes towards the town’s economic climate.”

The grants scheme is for small businesses with less than 50 employees who operate in the Crawley area.

All Small Business Support Grants projects must be match-funded at least 50 per cent by the small business. Apprenticeship grants up to £1,500 are also available and don’t need to be match-funded.

For more information about business grants and funding visit

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