Category Archives: Video

New funding boost for Birmingham businesses


Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy is appealing to Brummies to support a fundraising scheme that could generate £3 million to support local businesses

The council is joining forces with ART Business Loans (ART) and ThinCats peer lending platform to assist small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Birmingham that are unable to obtain any or all of the finance they need from high street banks.

ART and the city council will jointly underwrite loans of between £10,000 and £150,000.

The partnership has set a fund-raising target of £1 million a year over three years and is appealing to companies and individuals to invest in the scheme.  They can do that in the first instance by registering with ThinCats and taking advantage of a two week window to invest in ART Business Loans – from Thursday 26th January to Thursday 9th February – with a minimum investment of £1,000.  There is no upper limit.  ART will then lend the money raised to Birmingham businesses.

Councillor Clancy said: “This is a pioneering local investment opportunity and a chance for people to not only get a financial incentive in the form of a tax relief, but also a social return.  Small and medium sized enterprises are the life blood of the local economy and their ability to grow, create inclusive economic growth and preserve jobs impacts on everyone who lives and works in Birmingham.”

Investors will be able to claim Community Investment Tax Relief (CITR), which reduces investors’ tax bills by 5% of the loan value per annum over a five-year period.  This equates to a 6.25% return for standard rate Income Tax payers, 8.3% if you pay 40% tax and 9.1% for higher rate tax payers.  The Tax relief also applies to businesses who get Corporation Tax relief, providing an income equivalent to 5.8%.  To take full advantage of the tax relief the money must be left invested for five years.  At the end of that time it will be returned.

ART was founded in 1997 by its first chairman Sir Adrian Cadbury with the objective of providing finance to businesses and social enterprises that were unable to access loans from banks.  The average loan is £33,000, reflecting a gap in the business funding market for smaller loans.

One of ART’s best known beneficiaries is Birmingham Michelin-star chef Glynn Purnell who took out a loan to top up bank funding and open his first restaurant.

Based at Innovation Campus, Birmingham, ART has lent over £20 million since its launch in 1997, helping small firms to grow and create thousands of jobs. Loans are available for any purpose including supporting cash-flow.

Dr Steve Walker, Chief Executive of ART said: “There are many reasons why a viable business may not fit the banks’ lending criteria, including because the bank has already lent all it can.  We’re here to ensure that businesses can access the loan finance they need to support cash-flow, invest in new premises and equipment, survive and thrive.”

Kevin Caley, Founder and Chairman of ThinCats said: “Peer to peer finance solves two problems at once; it provides businesses with the funding they need to grow at a time when banks are reluctant to help and it also provides investors with a way to earn returns on their capital well above the rate of inflation. This unique partnership between ART Business Loans, Birmingham City Council and ThinCats highlights the way that investors from Birmingham can invest in the economy of their own City.”

The social care crisis is not going away

Earlier today I spoke to BBC News about the social care crisis facing vulnerable people across the country.

Rockspring kick-starts regeneration of Birmingham Smithfield

The first new development underway in the Smithfield district of Birmingham has been launched.

Cllr John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, visited the site with Cllr Peter Griffiths, cabinet member for housing and homes, to view progress at The Forum, a £50 million development of 334 private rental sector (PRS) apartments by Rockspring Property Investment Managers LLP (“Rockspring”).

The councillors performed a concrete pour at the scheme – Birmingham’s first specifically designed PRS development, to mark the latest phase of construction – which includes the formation of the main concrete frame and floors above ground level following completion of the structural groundworks.

The Forum is on Pershore Street, on the site of the former Silver Blades ice rink, and within the 14-hectare Birmingham Smithfield perimeter.

Birmingham City Council is planning to regenerate this historic markets area of the city. Plans include 300,000 sq m of leisure, retail, hotel and cultural space and 2,000 new homes set around a new public space – Festival Square – and park. There will be a new base for the indoor, retail and rag markets, to include a food hub. More than £500million will be invested in the ten-year project, one of the largest city centre development opportunities in the country.

Cllr Clancy said: “The Forum is a significant development: not only does it kick-start the development of Birmingham Smithfield, it delivers much needed new homes to the city.

“There’s a housing crisis in this country and Birmingham is no exception. We need more affordable homes, we need more social housing and we need to give people hope.

“With 3,000 new jobs and 2,000 new homes Birmingham Smithfield puts people right at the heart of an exciting project that will in turn transform lives.”

Rockspring has already committed to Birmingham with its £60 million landmark office tower development on Colmore Row. The London-based fund acquired The Forum (formerly The Beacon) from developer Linkcity in May this year.

Paul Hampton, partner at Rockspring, said: “Forming part of the Birmingham Smithfield regeneration area, this is an exciting project for us and is very much in line with our strategic focus on rapidly improving residential sub markets within dynamic cities that are experiencing high levels of urbanisation and growth.”

In another first for Birmingham, Rockspring has appointed multi-family specialist, Atlas Residential to manage the residences.  Headquartered in Chicago and with an office in London, the firm operates more than 75,000 apartments in Texas and Florida.

In addition to the 334 – 5 studio, 262 one-bed and 67 two-bed – apartments, The Forum will boast a residents’ only gym, car park and landscaped gardens. The scheme is set to complete in mid 2018.

Bouygues UK is the main contractor for the development; Linkcity (formerly known as Bouygues Development) has been retained as development manager; the architects are Costorphine + Wright.

Nicolas Guérin, managing director of Linkcity, said: “We look forward to working with Rockspring and our sister company Bouygues UK to deliver this vibrant project while also looking at further opportunities in the area. With a vast amount of regeneration underway, new transport infrastructure such as HS2 in the pipeline and major employers coming to Birmingham, these are exciting times for Britain’s second city. Having more than 40 per cent of the population aged under 25 and five universities means there is a huge market for high-quality build-to-rent developments, such as The Forum, as well as student accommodation projects.”