Norfolk and Suffolk Clean Growth Taskforce
Wednesday 6
July 2022
Agenda Item 7
Road to Net Zero Business Support Programme
Author: Ellen Goodwin
This report offers an update on the Road to Net Zero Business Support Programme.
The Taskforce are asked to:
Note the report and reflect any thoughts they would like to be communicate to the
LEP Board at their July meeting.
The Road to Net Zero Business Support Programme was first presented to the Clean
Growth Taskforce in November 2021. It is a pilot initiative, funded by the UK Government’s
Community Renewal Fund (CRF), designed to pro-actively pivot business support and
grants on a net zero future, build business advice expertise, and develop a portfolio of tested
interventions which can be rolled out further in future. The programme covers the following:
The University of East Anglia in partnership with the University of Suffolk are
mapping sectoral opportunities on the net zero journey by defining business wants/
needs and informing understanding of decarbonisation constraints/opportunities.
The Chambers’ of Commerce are providing online toolkits/resources to share/
promote to businesses in order to support and enhance direct support and to
showcase best practice through marketing and events.
A dedicated trained resource within the New Anglia Growth Hub.
Grants from £1,000-£25,000, at a 75% intervention rate, to support businesses
towards net zero with measurable practical interventions.
1-3 days consultancy from a pool of procured experts for businesses. Business
audits will help identify the net zero ‘first/next step’.
A Net Zero Challenge Fund offering £25,000+ to businesses at an attractive 100%
intervention rate.
Partners include the New Anglia Growth Hub, Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, Suffolk
and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, UEA and the University of Suffolk, Groundwork East,
Eastern New Energy and Greater South East Net Zero Hub.
Programme initiation
The formal announcement for CRF projects was made on 3 November 2021 after a longer
than anticipated decision-making process. New Anglia LEP was successful in gaining
£659,200 in Norfolk and £523,300 in Suffolk for the Road to Net Zero Business Support
Programme. The Norfolk bid was deliberately larger reflecting the fact that Norfolk had four
of the Government’s 100 priority places located in it: Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and West
Norfolk, North Norfolk and Norwich. Despite the fact that the two programmes are separate
from a governance perspective, the New Anglia LEP effectively runs them as one.
The Road to Net Zero Business Support Programme was formally launched at the end of
January 2022. This was slightly later than originally planned due to contract negotiations
and clarification of monitoring and reporting detail.
Alongside the Road to Net Zero Programme, another LEP programme, Enabling Self-
Employment was also successful across Norfolk and Suffolk (Norfolk £620k, Suffolk £404K).
Twelve other projects were successful across Norfolk, several with a clean growth focus,
while no other projects were approved in Suffolk.
Due to the delays in original decision-making, the completion date was pushed back from
March 2022 to June 2022. However, this was still a reduction in the anticipated programme
delivery period compared with when the applications were made.
As part of the interim reporting arrangements Ministers stated that requests for extensions
would be considered due to the delivery challenges of some projects nationally. As such an
extension request was submitted and has since been accepted for the Programme.
Challenges with respect to covid and supply chain capacity were cited as reasons to
consider an extension.
Extensions were granted in both Norfolk and Suffolk with a new deadline of December 2022.
Programme delivery
The research element being conducted by the University of East Anglia in partnership with
the University of Suffolk has gathered primary data through a range of different method
including focus groups, 1:1 interviews and an online survey. The research is due to formally
output at the end of July with the Clean Growth Taskforce due to receive a presentation from
the lead researchers at its October meeting. This element will feed into the events being
planned for delivery in November 2022.
The Chambers are now well advanced with the delivery of their Programmes with almost 20
events delivered/planned. Online content has been improved and appropriately marketed to
the wider business community. Business Climate Leaders has been launched in Norfolk and
a Net Zero Policy Group in Suffolk. While the bulk of delivery is close to being complete,
monitoring and evaluation is not due until the end of October to reflect the ongoing work both
Chambers’ are planning in this space. This element of work will also feed into the events
being planned for delivery in November 2022.
Groundwork East has provided training and ongoing support to the Growth Hub as well as
the LEP Executive to help boost knowledge within the business support arena. Growth Hub
advisers are now able to provide a level of net zero business support and are appropriately
skilled in order to develop the customer journey further in a tailored way through relevant
When the Programme was launched the New Anglia Growth Hub was inundated with
interest – the level of which was unprecedented. That being said, expectation management
was a key consideration and managing the sheer volume of interest was challenging.
The grant programme across Norfolk and Suffolk is now almost fully subscribed with delivery
due to be complete by the end of September.
The consultancy element of the Programme is progressing well with all allocations due to be
committed by the end of August with delivery again expected by the end of September.
Challenge Fund
Four challenge fund projects were allocated during the first round (due for completion the
end of July 2022):
1. Adastral Park: Ultra Low-Carbon Modular Technology Demonstrator (Natural
Building Systems)
2. Hethel: Rural SME cluster transport decarbonisation (Mobilityways)
3. Snetterton Business Park: Feasibility study and business plan for an ESCO (EP
4. Suffolk: Hydrogen refuelling network for transport – early-stage feasibility (Hydrogen
A fifth was allocated during round 2 and will deliver by October 2022:
5. Development of a scaled replica offshore wind turbine designed to train people in
their engineering/construction (Constructionarium)
Key take aways from the interim evaluation report provided by S4W include the following:
“The Road to Net Zero project has been effective so far in delivering investment and
support to businesses that are seeking to reduce their carbon footprints. Deployment
of the project has been swift and the large partnership and lack of hierarchical or
contractual relationships has not hindered performance. The scale of demand from
businesses has been high, partly fuelled by spiralling energy prices and a generous
grant scheme.
The timeframes have created difficulty at times, but the Road to Net Zero project has
managed to avoid some of the long set-up phases that many ERDF projects have had
and there are definitely lessons learnt here for future projects. This includes utilising
existing infrastructure and staff (something not always easy or possible in ERDF
projects), developing delivery partnerships based on trust and peer support and
avoiding the need for significant early-stage staff recruitment.
Some of the key learnings from the programme at this point are:
The project has drawn heavily from the recently published Norfolk and Suffolk
Economic Plan, which has acted as a framework for developing the project
There needs to be effective mechanisms in place to accordingly stimulate and
choke demand for support depending on capacity and availability of resources in
longer term projects.
It is hoped that the investment will create a number of low carbon jobs across
Norfolk and Suffolk, although the grant investment, which has been the strongest
lever to achieve this, has not had a job creation element to its decision making.
The main sectors that have come forward for support are those where
energy/carbon is either a very high gross expenditure (such as manufacturing) or a
considerable component of business overheads (food and drink, retail).
The short-term nature of the project has not always allowed quality projects to
come to the fore – and the consultancy and events programme could not act as a
filter into grants offer to facilitate this. This approach could be rectified in a longer-
term programme.
There is a clear benefit to not having to shoehorn every business into a 12-hours
package of support. Some businesses have received significant benefit from a
single day consultancy contract.
The project is likely to be able to demonstrate the investment of a Net Zero grant
has led to real financial and carbon savings within the business recipient. This
may lead to an alternative model for investing in carbon reduction in SMEs based
around grant/loan finance or other mechanisms. This will be explored more as
part of the final evaluation.
Next steps
The New Anglia LEP Board will receive a Programme Performance Report for this
programme as well as the Enabling Self Employment Programme at its July meeting. The
Clean Growth Taskforce is asked for any observations as part of this process.
The Taskforce are asked to:
Note the report and reflect any thoughts they would like to be communicate to the
LEP Board at their July meeting.