In our series of interviews for the Future Positive Podcast, we recently featured Paul Collins, Senior Manager at West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region LEP. Paul helps support small businesses in the region to adopt “Clean Tech”, by offering funding for energy audits and capital investments.
Talking to Kirsty McGregor, Capitalise’s Accountant-in-Residence, Paul explains how his role helps businesses identify where they could save costs.
Keep reading to find out how you can help your clients save energy costs this 2022.
How you can help your clients with energy costs
Paul explains the different ways your clients can save energy costs. Firstly, this could be behavioural changes, such as those we discussed in this recent blog - including turning off appliances and educating staff. Or, this could be more significant interventions, such as investing in capital. This investment helps businesses use greener energy sources, focus on efficient cost-saving measures or assist in the reduce, reuse, recycle strategies of a circular economy.
Despite the changes recently announced by the Government which mean that in order to target local areas for the Levelling Up objectives, funds are no longer granted to the LEPs in England, but more directly to Local Authorities, these schemes are still available for another year.
"Schemes offering free energy audits and 40% grants towards capital investment will end in 2023, so use them before you lose them”
Sustainability and net zero targets will however remain incredibly important for the Government and Local Authorities. So when the funds from the Shared Prosperity Fund are handed out, they’ll inevitably be used for schemes with similar objectives.
In addition, any areas which are Mayoral Central Authorities will also have access to other funds where it’s expected there will be further flexibility around the schemes.
During the interview it became obvious that there are several ways in which accountants can become involved in this area to best serve their clients’ needs.
It’s very useful for advisers to understand their local landscape and the various individual contacts in Business Support, Business Growth Hubs and Local Authorities who can explain what funding is available, either for advice and energy audits, or for capital investment grants
Any projects which are suggested to your client should be considered from an operational and financial perspective. Accountants are ideally placed to compile business plans and projections to help the business owner understand what costs are involved and which savings may be possible
These schemes usually require some form of matched funding, so advisers can help their clients access finance. The market for both asset finance and “Green Loans” is particularly buoyant at present and with a significant contribution from a grant, any finance proposal is likely to be viewed favourably by lenders
Clients will require advice around tax allowances such as the super-deduction capital allowance
Accountants can provide a wealth of knowledge about the issues affecting their local business community and Local Authorities and Business Growth Hubs are regularly seeking more input from those with different perspectives of the companies in their region, either as Board Members or more informal sounding boards.
As we gradually move away from the LEP system and to a new environment of business support from authorities and agencies, this provides an ideal opportunity for advisers to reach out to their local contacts.
If you were to become more involved, you could then directly influence the continued economic development of your own area, and in turn benefit your whole client base.