An organisation designed to help businesses grow has secured funding for another three years of support.

Cumbria Business Growth Hub will be able to extend the Business Start Up Support scheme it delivers until March 2022.

It has secured the money from the European Regional Development Fund as part of a package put together with partners including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, Carlisle City Council, South Lakeland District Council and Sellafield Ltd.

As part of the scheme, people can access support events and one-to-one discussions for help on starting a business, as well as advice from experts.

Three-day courses also run regularly in Carlisle, Kendal, Ulverston, Whitehaven and Workington, as well as a range of other half, one day and multi-day training and events.

There is also the potential to receive a 40 per cent grant up to a maximum of £2,000 for consultancy or other eligible expenses.

Will Box, who accessed the scheme for help with his business Inter Fresh, in Carlisle, said: “I did one or two of the courses on offer, but what I really wanted was someone to talk to and run things by.

"My adviser acted as a sounding board and I saw him every few weeks to make sure I was on track; having someone to turn to was invaluable.

“Thanks to the Growth Hub my business is way ahead of where I expected it to be after two years trading and we’re still growing."

The growth hub's contract to deliver the New Enterprise Allowance in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside has also been extended for another two years.

The NEA helps unemployed people become self-employed via LinkUp:StartUp workshops held around the county.

People who do decide they want to become self-employed can access one to one advice and workshops. Once their business plan has been approved they can claim a weekly allowance up to £1,274 over 26 weeks.

Anyone interested in the NEA, should contact their Job Centre Work Coach to check eligibility and book a workshop. The initiative can also help people on Universal Credit who are running a business to increase their earnings.

NEA Client Sara Fabre, who runs Cumbrian digital marketing conultancy MY MEDiA, said: “The New Enterprise Allowance grant was a big help. Overheads are high when you’re starting a business, so it oiled the wheels.

“If I hadn’t had the advice and the grant, I’d probably still have started the business, but it would have been a lot tougher.”

Lesley Robinson, of Cumbria Business Growth Hub, said: “Many people start their own business as they’re keen to build on a skill or hobby that they’re passionate about.

"For others it’s about gaining a feeling of control over their future or a more workable option than being an employee.

"Whatever stage you’re at on your business start-up journey, both BSUS and NEA provide a great choice of free support to help you get your new business off the ground.”