Minister of State announces UKG investment for NI’s Cyber Security industry

  • Minister of State announces £18.9 million investment in NI’s Cyber Security industry.
  • New Cyber-AI Hub to help businesses and startups explore new opportunities.
  • NI pipeline of world-class cyber professionals developed with training and bursaries.

The UK Government has announced £18.9 million investment in NI’s Cyber Security industry, including £11 million Government funding through the New Deal for Northern Ireland, to develop a pipeline of cyber security professionals in NI as well helping businesses and startups develop new opportunities.

The investment, announced by Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker MP, will see the creation of a new Cyber-AI Hub at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) in Belfast, creating jobs and supporting the research and development of AI-enabled cyber security projects.

Following the launch, Minister Baker visited NVIDIA, one of the companies benefiting from the close collaboration at CSIT, to learn more about the work being done in their Belfast

R&D centre to enhance the security and performance of NVIDIA’s networking solutions. The company, a global leader in AI, will engage with the new hub on collaborative research into AI-based cyber threat intelligence.

The funding will help ensure a pipeline of world-class cyber professionals, with the creation of a Doctoral training programme and Masters bursaries helping to deliver on the Government’s pledge of 5000 cyber professionals in NI by 2030, as well as supporting the Government’s £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy.

An additional £3.3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will support the delivery of the next phase of the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre at CSIT as it continues linking industry, government and academic expertise to promote economic growth.

With £4.6 million from project partners, the funding builds on NI’s impressive track record of attracting investment in its Cyber Security sector, ahead of Belfast hosting the UK’s flagship cyber security event, CyberUK 2023 in April.

Speaking at the event, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker said:

This funding will help to create jobs and strengthen Northern Ireland’s economy, ensuring NI continues to lead the way in cyber security.

We have world-class talent and expertise in NI, and the Government is committed to developing cyber security professionals, here and across the UK.

The funding will have an immediate positive impact on NI’s cyber sector, and with Belfast hosting the UK’s leading cyber security conference in April, I’m looking forward to seeing NI’s deserved recognition as a global cyber security hub.

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Paul Scully, said:

Northern Ireland’s cyber security firms play a huge role in the UK’s thriving and world-leading tech industry.

We’re investing millions so people across Northern Ireland can gain the skills for exciting careers helping people and businesses defend against cyber threats.

President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Ian Greer, said:

This funding boost will have a hugely positive impact on the cyber security sector locally, nationally and globally.

Investing in a Doctoral Training Programme is vital for the future of our society. We are investing in the skills of the next generation of leaders in cyber security, as well as progressing the Northern Ireland economy.

Over the last 15 years, Queen’s University has helped to put Northern Ireland on the map for digital innovation. We are proud of the work that takes place through the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) and are looking forward to further developing cutting-edge research through the broader Belfast Region City Deal-funded Global Innovation Institute.

For UK Research and Innovation, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, EPSRC Executive Chair said:

For the past 13 years the Centre for Secure Information Technologies has played a key role in helping the UK to respond to emerging cyber security threats. It is also at the heart of a thriving innovation ecosystem in Northern Ireland involving more than 100 companies and providing 2,300 people.

Together with the Cyber-AI hub this additional funding announced today will build on this success to promote further growth and support further cutting edge research that will benefit us all.

Cyber-AI Hub will see the creation of a UK Government Northern Ireland based cyber engagement lead, joining DSIT colleagues in Northern Ireland. This role, similar to positions in other regions in the UK, will engage directly with the Northern Ireland cyber sector to support the delivery of the government’s national cyber security and levelling up strategies as well as exploring opportunities for further UK government funded innovation and skills initiatives.

The funding will also allow for the continuation of the NI Cyber Security Snapshot by QUB. This will highlight opportunities and challenges for the Northern Ireland Cyber Security sector to be identified on a regular basis, further enabling growth in the sector.



New Deal for Northern Ireland

  • Substantial funding package aimed at boosting Northern Ireland’s economic growth and supporting businesses. More information here.

Cyber-AI Technologies Hub

  • Consortium of 8 Research & Development intensive cyber security companies working on AI-based security technologies.
  • The consortium includes many market-leading companies developing products that service a global export market and represents a good cross-section of the products and services within the broader cyber security market.
  • The hub is delivered on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Culture Media and Sport by Innovate UK – part of UK Research and Innovation.

CSIT Doctoral Training Programme

  • Development of a cohort of 15 industry-conscious cyber security PhD graduates, producing potential leaders in the cyber industry.

Masters Bursaries

  • 40 Bursaries providing free access to QUB’s MSc Applied Cyber Security and MSc Data Analytics courses.

NI Cyber Security Snapshot

  • The inaugural Cyber Security Snapshot published in May 2021, sets out a thorough baseline, ambitions, and challenges for the Northern Ireland Cyber Security ecosystem. However, there is a need to continue this research on an ongoing basis which this proposal would achieve.
  • It will provide a full list of companies in the sector, full data on them, economic stats on Cyber Security, and a labour market overview as a few examples.

CyberUK 2023

  • The UK’s flagship cyber security event, run by the National Cyber Security Centre, will take place in Belfast on 19/20 April with the theme of securing an open and resilient digital future. More information here.

CSIT Innovation and Knowledge Centre

  • In 2008, the  Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT)  was chosen by the  Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)  and  Innovate UK  to host The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), one of only seven UK  Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs).

  • IKCs are a key component of the UK’s approach to the commercialisation of emerging technologies through creating early stage critical mass in an area of disruptive technology. They are able to achieve this through their international quality research capability and access to companion technologies needed to commercialise research.

Link: Minister of State announces UKG investment for NI’s Cyber Security industry
Source: Assent Information Services

UK announces second Global Investment Summit to create jobs in high tech sectors

  • PM announces UK’s second Global Investment Summit to take place in October.
  • Summit will bring 200+ CEOs of multinational companies and investment corporations to showcase the UK as a world-leading investment destination.
  • Latest figures show UK Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock reached £2 trillion in 2021, creating tens of thousands of high-value jobs across the UK.

Over 200 of the world’s highest profile investors, CEOs and financiers are expected to come to the UK in October for a second Global Investment Summit (GIS 23) – the Government announces today (Friday 10 February).

GIS 23 will aim to raise billions of pounds of high value investment to create thousands of jobs across the UK, with a special focus on high tech sectors such as innovation, research and development.

The event will build on the success of the inaugural Global Investment Summit in October 2021, that brought together over 170 CEOs to showcase the UK’s commitment to green investment ahead of COP26.

The 2021 Summit secured £9.7 billion of new foreign investment on the day, creating over 30,000 new jobs and supporting growth in vital sectors such as wind and hydrogen energy, sustainable homes, and carbon capture and storage.

Leading the Summit is the newly formed Department for Business and Trade, created by the Prime Minister to support UK businesses to invest, grow and export around the world and to create jobs and prosperity across the UK.

The Prime Minister will confirm the UK is hosting a second Summit during a meeting of the Investment Council on Friday, where he will address global investors to set out his priorities for creating jobs and growing the economy.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“This week we drove serious change from the heart of government by creating four new departments. This was done to deliver on the promises and priorities of the British people, and to go further and faster on our ambition to drive jobs and growth in every part of the UK and ensure we are at the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

“The next Global Investment Summit is an opportunity to demonstrate what we can do as a nation, delivering on our ambition to be the a world-leading destination for international finance and investment.”

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said:

“Investment creates high quality jobs and grows our economy.

“I started the year setting a goal of the UK becoming the undisputed number one investment destination in Europe. Events like this will help deliver this and show the world’s biggest investors just what a strong investment prospect the UK can offer.

“Overseas investment has already led to 85,000 new jobs in 2021/22 alone, and I want to us to go further, driving growth and putting more money in the pockets of hardworking Brits.

This year’s event will showcase emerging UK success stories in life sciences, deep tech, nuclear fusion and small modular reactions (SMRs), and manufacturing, with capital investment driven by the post-EU Exit financial liberalisation encapsulated in the Edinburgh reforms.

Minister for Investment Dominic Johnson said:

“The UK remains open for business. I greatly look forward to welcoming investors at the Global Investment Summit and showcasing how the UK has reached over £2 trillion in inward investment stock.

“Our low-tax, high-skill economy is unrivalled in offering strong returns, innovative businesses and a rule of law that is emulated around the world.”

Notes to editors:

  • The UK Investment Council was established and formed under the chairmanship of the Minister for Investment in April 2021 to provide a platform for 42 influential global investors so that they can highlight their perspectives, priorities and concerns relating to UK inward investment and use it as an opportunity to influence Government’s future approach to investment policy.
  • Their high-level expertise and advice help to guide the discussion happening around the table and to inform DIT and wider Government to ensure the UK’s remains one of the leading destinations for foreign investment. The Council also provides an opportunity for HMG to amplify its investment objectives to senior industry leaders.
  • The Council, though separate, operates in collaboration with the Office for Investment and has proven highly effective in gathering investor insights and improving the quality of Departmental stakeholder engagement.

Link: UK announces second Global Investment Summit to create jobs in high tech sectors
Source: Assent Information Services

Business and Trade Secretary signs landmark first partnership with EU nation to boost British exports

  • Kemi Badenoch signs UK-Italy export and investment partnership on visit to Rome – the first such partnership between the UK and any EU country.
  • Partnership will strengthen our post-Brexit export and investment links with Italy and intends to boost a trade relationship worth more than £43 billion.
  • Business and Trade Secretary will also co-chair the first UK and Italy CEO Forum, bringing together businesspeople from the two countries to bang the drum for the UK as a top investment destination.

The UK and Italy have today (Wednesday 8 February) agreed a momentous trade partnership to boost UK exports, help create jobs, increase wages and grow the economy.

On her first overseas visit as the Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch MP and Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani met in Rome today to sign the UK-Italy Export and Investment Promotion Dialogue – the first agreed between the UK and any EU country.

The partnership aims to strengthen exports in high-performing and growth sectors of the future, such as Life Sciences and Digital and Tech, as well as promoting inward investment, including low-carbon industries such as Offshore Wind and Carbon Capture Storage.

The agreement reinforces the UK’s position as a vital trade partner within Europe and the G7. It demonstrates how we can use our position as an independent trading nation to agree comprehensive trade deals with new markets, while also strengthening partnerships with EU members.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch MP said:

“This partnership marks a significant milestone in the UK’s trading relationship with Europe and shows how an independent UK can benefit from striking ambitious trade deals with the world, while also reinforcing our already strong and prosperous trading relationship with EU members such as Italy.

“This partnership will boost trade and investment between British and Italian businesses, ease the path for valuable investment, and will crucially grow UK exports as we aim for our target of selling £1 trillion of goods and services a year to the world by the end of the decade.”

Both the UK and Italy are in the top 10 global economies. Trade between the UK and Italy is worth more than £43 billion, making it the UK’s 11th largest trading partner.

The most popular UK exports to Italy include cars, worth £932.5 million and equivalent to 10.1% of all UK goods exported to Italy, and £507.7 million worth of mechanical power generators.

In 2020-21, Italy was also the 6th largest source of UK Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects globally.

During her visit, the Business and Trade Secretary will co-chair the first UK and Italy CEO Forum, alongside the Minister for Enterprises and Made in Italy Adolfo Urso. The meeting is the first of its kind and she will discuss her top trade priorities which include breaking down trade barriers, making the UK the undisputed top investment destination in Europe and attracting new investment helping to level-up the country.

She will also meet with the heads of major Italian investors in the UK including innovative wind turbine business ACT Blade, and Eni, world leading energy company.

Badenoch will also make the opening remarks at the 30th anniversary of the Pontignano Forum where she will discuss the importance of economic security and trade in turbulent times.

Link: Business and Trade Secretary signs landmark first partnership with EU nation to boost British exports
Source: Assent Information Services

British business sizes up global trade wins as Malaysia and Chile join Indo-Pacific bloc

  • Malaysia and Chile ratify membership of CPTPP, bolstering the Indo-Pacific trade bloc worth a combined £9 trillion of GDP
  • The UK is working to become the first European member of the bloc this year with negotiations progressing well
  • British businesses can add Malaysia and Chile to the list of countries they could benefit from lower tariffs on exports to now they have joined CPTPP

Malaysia and Chile have officially joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), meaning British businesses will get better access and lower tariffs in the Malaysian and Chilean markets when the UK joins the dynamic trade bloc.

Malaysia is one of the CPTPP members with which the UK does not currently have a bilateral free trade agreement. The UK and Malaysia both joining CPTPP will greatly increase the UK’s access to the Malaysian market and could boost the £2.9bn worth of exports we currently sell there annually.

Chile was the first country to sign a trade deal with the UK after we left the EU which secured preferential access to each other’s markets. Chile remains one of the foremost champions of free and open trade in the Pacific region and is keen to deepen our trading relationship, which was already worth £1.5bn in 2021.

Joining CPTPP will also provide opportunities for collaboration with Chile in areas such as fintech, green finance and cybersecurity, supporting innovation in our financial services sector and helping develop our countries as leaders of financial services.

The UK is making good progress in negotiating our own accession to CPTPP. UK accession could mean more than 99% of UK exports to member countries become eligible for tariff-free trade.

Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands said:

This is great news for UK businesses and global free trade. The Indo-Pacific has some of the most innovative and fast-growing economies in the world and closer ties with markets like Malaysia and Chile will demonstrate how our trade agenda is delivering for the whole of the UK.

I’ve spent the last few days in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss our accession to CPTPP which will take the bloc from 12% to 15% of global GDP and will mean we are using our independent trading powers to bring a new, strong, persuasive voice to a network committed to free trade.

Sheffield-based chilli paste manufacturer Mak Tok has been exploring Malaysia as a new potential market and is looking to license the brand and partner with a manufacturer in the country.

Mak Tok rose to fame after showcasing its Malaysian chilli paste and sauces on Dragon’s Den. The business has been created around traditional Malaysian cuisine and already exports to other CPTPP member countries including New Zealand.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has supported Mak Tok on its exporting journey and the benefit of improved market access could mean they see increased opportunities to trade with Malaysia as joint members of CPTPP.

Mak Tok Founder Will Chew said:

Malaysia and its neighbouring countries have always been markets Mak Tok has been trying to penetrate. For the past few months, we have been working closely with our dedicated International Trade Advisor and the wider Department for International Trade (DIT) team on a strategy to establish those critical initial contacts in the region.

Being a part of CPTPP will accelerate our conversations with potential manufacturing and distribution partners, which will generate a new revenue stream for the business, expand our market reach and increase the movement of our products.

These key metrics will fuel the growth of Mak Tok by attracting new key investors in the Indo-Pacific region to help drive the brand even further.

Founded in Bath in 1990, the Fine Cheese Co. export a range of traditionally made artisan cheeses from independent producers from across the UK. The product can currently be found in over 600 delicatessens, farm shops and independent retailers across the UK and thirty other nations across the globe, from Chile to Australia.

Fine Cheese Co. Owner and Director, John Siddall, said:

Having exported to the country since 2008, The Fine Cheese Co. is excited about the future opportunity of the Chilean market at the nation’s gourmet market expands.

The most recent round of CPTPP negotiations, held in London in December, made good progress and the UK continues to engage in talks on both a bilateral and collective basis with CPTPP members.

Joining CPTPP puts Britain at the heart of a dynamic group of countries, as the world economy increasingly centres on the Pacific region. As these economies grow, stronger trade links with these countries are crucial to benefiting from this growth.

Notes to editors

  • CPTPP is made up of 11 countries in the Asia Pacific and Americas, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam
  • CPTPP had a combined GDP of £9 trillion and was home to over 500 million people in 2021
  • CPTPP membership not only offers significant direct opportunities for UK exports, but it could also act as a gateway to the wider Indo-Pacific region, which is expected to account for the majority (56%) of global economic growth between 2019 and 2050.

Link: British business sizes up global trade wins as Malaysia and Chile join Indo-Pacific bloc
Source: Assent Information Services

Apprenticeships boosted under plans to broaden UCAS

  • Thousands of apprenticeship opportunities to be advertised to young people alongside undergraduate degrees in plans to broaden UCAS
  • Half of UCAS applicants would consider an apprenticeship, but not enough vacancies are being offered to meet growing demand
  • Education Secretary sets out ambition to go further still, to develop a one-stop-shop to make it easier for young people to see all education and training options and apply for them

Young people will be able to use UCAS to search and apply for apprenticeships, alongside degrees, under new plans announced by the Education Secretary and UCAS today (6 February).

From this autumn, UCAS will expand their service so that young people can see more personalised options, including apprenticeships. From 2024, students will then be able to apply for apprenticeships through UCAS alongside an undergraduate degree application.

Almost half of people that register on UCAS say they would consider an apprenticeship, but currently there are not enough vacancies being advertised through the service to meet growing demand.

The plans will help put technical and vocational education on an equal footing with traditional academic routes. By opening up the service to apprenticeship opportunities, thousands more young people will benefit from a wider choice of high-quality options. Employers will also benefit from better access to talent on UCAS and the ability to manage their apprentice recruitment process.

Announcing the plans during National Apprenticeship Week, the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan pledged to go further still, and develop a one-stop-shop where young people can compare the full range of occupations, training and education opportunities available to them.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said:

My apprenticeship was my golden ticket. It gave me a unique insight into how a business
operated, from the shop floor to the boardroom.

I learnt the skills that businesses truly value and it launched my career in international

This National Apprenticeship week I hope more people learn about the incredible
opportunities available in everything from engineering to accountancy, healthcare to
gaming software development. Whatever career goals you aspire to, they can be achieved
through an apprenticeship, up to masters degree level.

Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS said:

Presenting students with all their choices in one place will not only transform the
apprenticeship offering but create real parity by putting these options side-by-side with
undergraduate courses.  

As an independent charity working across the UK and globally, students are at the heart
of everything we do at UCAS, and with almost half of all UCAS users interested in
apprenticeships, equating to hundreds of thousands of potential apprentices, we can help
meet this growing demand by showcasing all post-secondary opportunities.

Today’s announcement by the Department for Education shows the commitment to deliver
a clear, accessible and joined-up service that will help students discover, decide and apply
in one place, enabling them to achieve their future careers aspirations.

Over 1.5m students already use the UCAS Hub to access information on different education and training routes. From 2023, students will be able to explore apprenticeship opportunities alongside undergraduate courses within the Hub, allowing them to discover and decide between their options in the same place for the first time. It will also show students the different routes into a single career destination, meaning if a student is interested in, for example, engineering, they will see the undergraduate and apprenticeship routes displayed side-by-side.

From autumn 2024, students will then be able to apply for apprenticeships within the UCAS Hub and employers will be able to manage applications for their apprenticeship vacancies through UCAS too.

So that as many apprenticeship vacancies are advertised through the Hub as possible, the Government will collaborate with UCAS to share vacancy information collated through its Find an Apprenticeship Service, which already collates and advertises thousands of opportunities.

The government’s ambition is to develop a seamless ‘one-stop shop’ where a young person can explore all the high-quality options and learn about the skills and knowledge they need to develop to succeed in their chosen career, whether it’s a level 2 apprenticeship, a T Level, a degree, a Skills Bootcamp, a higher technical qualification or a degree apprenticeship. The Government has asked the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education to use their work to map technical career routes to support this.

John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager said:

This is fantastic news for the future of apprenticeships. Amazon is celebrating our tenth
year of offering apprenticeships in the UK, and we currently have around 1,700 in training.
One theme we often hear from current apprentices is the need to increase awareness of
apprenticeships as a viable career path. We are clear on the benefits to both the
apprentices, who earn and learn at the same time, as well as to employers, who gain
access to incredible talent while shaping the skills needed for the future. Amazon is proud
to support UCAS and the Department for Education this National Apprenticeship Week to
promote these opportunities.

Richard Hamer, Director of Education and Skills, BAE Systems plc said:

BAE Systems is committed to supporting apprenticeships and young people so we are
delighted to hear there will be better matching between the UCAS Hub Users and
apprenticeship vacancies. This will help support both young people looking for
apprenticeship opportunities and us, as employers, identifying diverse talent for our
apprenticeship programmes.

Vanessa Wilson, CEO University Alliance said:

As the body representing leading professional and technical universities across the UK,
we welcome moves to better support students into degree apprenticeships. Delivering
skilled and job ready graduates is in the DNA of alliance universities, and we positively
embrace any opportunity to provide students at all levels and ages with routes into
education and training.

It is important that a wide range of opportunities appropriate to individual learning
preference is available to all, and that these deliver the best outcomes for the learner as
well as employers and society.

As the gold standard course and provider platform for generations, UCAS are the natural
choice to deliver information, advice and opportunities in the apprenticeship space.
Alliance universities stand ready to deliver these training opportunities.

Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said:

Accessing information about apprenticeships can be confusing and complicated at times.
That’s why we’re delighted to see that UCAS will expand their apprenticeship service to
match potential apprentices with vacancies. This could be a gamechanger, and alongside
an enhanced talent finder function for employers, is much needed. It also shows how
apprenticeships are a really valuable option for learners and employers alike.

We would urge employers and training providers to work closely with UCAS to showcase
the opportunities they have for potential learners to ensure this improved service becomes
a real success.

Karen Luckly-Tang, Head of Future Talent,  Legal and General Group PLC said:

At Legal & General, a well skilled, talented workforce is absolutely critical to our mission.
Having apprentices that are talented, ambitious and diverse is absolutely key and we are
delighted that UCAS is developing its services to employers further to enable this. We look
forward to being part of this exciting development in attracting the very best to this ‘earn
whilst you learn’ route.

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University, said:

Degree apprenticeship provision at universities like Sheffield Hallam have grown
substantially since their introduction. In fact, apprenticeships across all levels are an
increasingly important part of our education eco-system.

We welcome this announcement as a step towards providing learners with better
information on all the options available to them, so that they can take a considered view on
what route is best for them.

Adam Tickell, VC at the University of Birmingham, said:

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer degree apprenticeships in partnership with
major employers and smaller firms because our collaborations offer exceptional education
and training opportunities.  We also offer apprenticeship opportunities in many of our
technical and professional services to provide essential training in shortage areas. We
welcome this step to make it easier for prospective students to apply for apprenticeships
alongside undergraduate degrees.

John Cope, executive director at UCAS and leading board member for IfATE, said:

This new, ground-breaking partnership between UCAS, Government and IFATE will see
undergraduate degrees and apprenticeships sit side-by-side for the first time, boosting
apprenticeship and supporting our economy to grow.

At UCAS, we know over 50% of those who set up their account with us are interested in
doing an apprenticeship, while data from IFATE shows 84% of those who become and
apprentice feel they made the right choice. This new partnership will boost numbers and
make sure more people are making the right choice for them as they plot their career plan.

Link: Apprenticeships boosted under plans to broaden UCAS
Source: Assent Information Services

Households, businesses and organisations off the gas grid to receive energy bill support over the coming weeks

  • £200 energy bill support to begin arriving with households off the gas grid across Great Britain
  • businesses using alternative fuels will also start receiving £150 credit on bills– with payments expected to be delivered by 10 March
  • new figures show £3 billion in government support has been paid out to businesses and public sector organisations in just over 3 months to support them this winter

From today households across Great Britain who don’t use mains gas for heating will start receiving £200 towards their energy bills as the Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) scheme launches. Most will get the £200 AFP automatically as a credit on their electricity bill but some customers will need to apply for the support later this month.

Nearly 2 million households who use alternative energy sources such as heating oil, biomass and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to warm their homes will receive the support which was doubled to £200 last year.

The vast majority, including many homes in rural areas, will get it automatically through their electricity supplier as a credit on their bill throughout February. A small minority of customers, such as those living in park homes or on static houseboats with no direct energy supplier, will need to apply to receive the payment through an online portal that will launch later this month.

Meanwhile from Wednesday, energy suppliers will also be able to start making payments to businesses and both public and voluntary sector organisations that use alternative fuels to heat their buildings. A credit of £150 will be provided to eligible customers across the UK through the Non-Domestic Alternative Fuel Payment scheme (ND-AFP). Suppliers will deliver this support up to 10 March, with most customers expected to receive it later this month. There is no need to contact your supplier.

This comes as new figures show that, thanks to the government’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme, £3 billion has been cut from business energy bills in just over 3 months – helping both private and public sector organisations from schools, to hospitals and pubs.

Minister for Energy and Climate Graham Stuart said:

Our main energy bill support schemes have seen millions of homes and businesses across the country get much needed help to cover costs, with figures today showing nearly £3 billion in government support has been paid out to business to date. Now we’re getting support to those remaining few that are off the gas grid and most difficult to reach.

I am determined to see households and businesses of all stripes protected from global pressures this winter – whether that’s those living in a houseboat, park home or operating a rural hospital or school.

That’s why we are kicking off payments of £200 to households using alternative fuel to heat their homes today – while businesses and organisations using alternative fuels will receive a boost of £150 in the coming weeks.

Ministers are today warning households to stay vigilant to scams and only to enter their details on the government’s website, which will provide all official communications, if applying for support. No one will be asked for information by any individual or organisation prior to this or outside of the portal. Those that require additional help when applying for support may wish to seek assistance from a family member or trusted friend.

These schemes form part of a suite of energy bill support for domestic and non-domestic customers across the UK for winter 2022-2023.

On the domestic side, the Energy Price Guarantee is saving a typical UK household £900 over this winter by reducing the unit cost of electricity and gas, while the Energy Bills Support Scheme provides a further £400 off electricity bills through a monthly discount of £66 or £67. So the average family is saving £1300 altogether while more vulnerable households have received £800 on top of that as well – making a £2100 saving.

Businesses and other non-domestic customers are also benefiting from government support on a comparable basis. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme provides a direct subsidy of wholesale electricity and gas prices until the end of March, protecting jobs in charities and businesses alike. This will then be replaced by the Energy Bills Discount Scheme from April, which will offer universal support albeit at a reduced rate to protect the public finances.

Notes to editors

Domestic Alternative Fuel Payment

Domestic AFP support was doubled to £200 in the Autumn Statement to help with rising fuel costs. Automatic payments will appear as a credit on bills and start from 6 February. They are expected to be completed within the month – although this will depend on customers’ suppliers and how they pay their bills.

A small minority of customers, including those living in park homes or on houseboats with no direct electricity supplier, will need to apply to the domestic AFP Alternative Fund to receive payment. An application portal on will open later in February, alongside further information on which households will need to apply. Those on the gas grid but without a gas connection and using alternative fuels as their main heating source will also likely need to take this route.

Customers should take no action until the online portal launches later in February. The application process will require customers to enter their household bank details onto the portal. Customers will not be asked for details by any individual or organisation prior to this or outside of the portal, and any such contact is likely to be a scam. If you require additional help when applying for your AFP support, you may wish to seek assistance from a family member or trusted friend.

Non-domestic Alternative Fuel Payment

Last year the government committed to providing businesses and other non-domestic energy customers using alternative fuels with support equivalent to the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. This includes shops, offices, libraries, schools, hospitals, factories, and farms, among others. A credit of £150 will be provided to eligible customers across the UK through the Non-Domestic Alternative Fuel Payment scheme (ND-AFP).

The government has today issued instructions to electricity suppliers on how to deliver this support to eligible customers. Credits will be delivered by 10 March, with most businesses expected to receive it later this month.

Electricity suppliers will be provided with a list of households eligible to receive support under the Alternative Fuel Payments (AFP), identifiable by their Meter Point Access Number (MPAN).

  • MPANs are unique codes assigned to everyone’s electricity supply. The government determined whether an MPAN was eligible by taking a list of all domestic MPANs and removing those which are on the gas grid or where the local area predominantly uses electricity for heating
  • households eligible to receive £200 AFP have been determined using:
    • GB post codes where there is no active gas meter connection as of 13 December 2022
    • mapping active GB post codes to Lower layer Super Output Areas (LSOA) using ONS National Statistics Postcode Lookup
    • census data on heating type
    • the MPAN report produced by the Retail Energy Code (REC), which will be accurate as of February 2023.

The AFP Alternative Fund application portal will open later in February. The application process will require households to provide their bank details – any direct request for your bank details from any individual or organisation is very likely a scam and should not be responded to.

Link: Households, businesses and organisations off the gas grid to receive energy bill support over the coming weeks
Source: Assent Information Services

100,000 British small businesses benefit from government-backed Start Up Loans

  • Start Up Loans programme reaches landmark 100,000 milestone, with more than £941 million in support given out to small businesses
  • Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake visits 100,000th recipient, St Albans based noodle shop Ramen Electra
  • Women, young people, and Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority business people among key groups supported by the scheme

The government’s Start Up Loans scheme has achieved another landmark milestone as the 100,000th business loan is granted, bringing the total support given to firms to more than £941 million, it has been announced today (Thursday 2 February).

The scheme, administered by the British Business Bank, offers financial support, guidance, and advice to entrepreneurs looking to start their own business.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake visited the 100,000th recipient, a thriving St Albans based noodle shop Ramen Electra, run by James Fraser, to hear about how crucial the firm’s Start Up Loan was in getting the successful business off the ground and to mark the important milestone.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

We know how important small businesses are to our communities, creating jobs, growth, and opportunities, and that is why we are backing them all the way to not only start up, but to scale up.

As a former business owner, I know how difficult it can be to get your business off the ground, which is why I’m incredibly proud that Government-backed Start Up Loans have helped 100,000 aspiring entrepreneurs, from Shetland to Shoreditch, to make their dreams a reality.

Of the total of more than 100,000 loans, 40 percent have gone to women and one-in-five to people from Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority backgrounds.

Meanwhile, young people (aged between 18-24 years old) have received 14 percent of loans since the scheme was established in 2012.

The success of the Start Up Loans scheme has been felt nationwide, with new and exciting businesses across the country using them to establish and grow.

The top five local authorities by loan volume and value are Birmingham, Leeds, Cornwall, Hackney in East London and Manchester, demonstrating the impact of Start Up Loans across the UK. 

With 12,382 loans in the North-West, 7,117 in the East of England, 5,616 in the East Midlands and 15,39 in Northern Ireland, as well as many more across all parts of the United Kingdom, the Start Up Loans scheme has seen the entire UK benefit, with total economic activity estimated to be around £5.3 billion.

Richard Bearman, Managing Director, Start Up Loans said:

Start Up Loans supports people across the UK who are looking to start their own businesses and passing our one hundred thousand loan milestone is an amazing achievement that has been ten years in the making. We could not have achieved this without the dedicated support of our network of UK delivery partners and in-house team, and I’d like to take this chance to thank them for everything they do to make our work possible.

The government is not only supporting businesses to start up, but to scale up too. The Start Up Loans scheme was recently expanded to provide finance to eligible businesses operating for up to 5 years to support their expansion. The Business Secretary Grant Shapps also recently announced a ‘Scale-up Summit’ to bring together key technology, development and finance figures who have accelerated businesses from start-ups to scale-ups.

The Start Up Loans programme provides personal loans of up to £25,000 to aspiring businesses while also providing dedicated mentoring and support to each recipient. The goal of the scheme is to make sure that viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have the finance and support they need to thrive.

Funding for the programme comes from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and is administered by the British Business Bank.

Notes to editors

The regional breakdown of Start Up Loans can be seen below:

UK region Loans made Amount lent (£) Average loan amount (£)
East Midlands 5,616 £51,633,229 £9,194
East of England 7,117 £68,269,520 £9,607
Isle of Man 4 £16,500 £4,125
London 20,937 £192,700,147 £9,204
North East 5,435 £49,743,110 £9,152
North West 12,382 £113,156,743 £9,139
Northern Ireland 1,539 £13,329,445 £8,661
Scotland 6,521 £58,378,802 £8,952
South East 9,997 £101,757,203 £10,179
South West 8,602 £79,218,286 £9,209
Wales 4,461 £44,664,355 £10,012
West Midlands 8,278 £76,668,091 £9,262
Yorkshire and The Humber 8,782 £84,539,388 £9,626
Region not obtained 557 £6,889,873 £12,370
Total 100,228 £941,064,690 £9,389

Businesses in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside have received more Start Up Loans on average when compared to the number of businesses in the region, than businesses in the South East and London. See table below:

Region All UK businesses Start Up Loans backed businesses
East Midlands 6.60% 6%
East of England 10% 7%
London 19% 21%
North East 2.70% 5%
North West 9.40% 12%
South East 15.60% 10%
South West 9.40% 9%
West Midlands 8.10% 8%
Yorkshire and The Humber 7.10% 9%
Scotland 6.20% 7%
Wales 3.50% 4%

Link: 100,000 British small businesses benefit from government-backed Start Up Loans
Source: Assent Information Services

Fresh funding to boost British exports of professional services overseas

  • Second round of government funding to make it easier for UK professionals, such as accountants and architects, to sell their services overseas
  • funding will help reduce the need for UK professionals to gain additional qualifications in foreign countries, or go through costly bureaucracy, meaning firms can focus on growing
  • grants of up to £75,000 available to UK regulators and professional bodies to do work on bilateral or multilateral recognition arrangements for UK professional qualifications

More funding to grow British exports by making it simpler for UK professionals to work abroad has been announced by the Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake today (Wednesday 1 February).

Grants of up to £75,000 will be awarded to UK regulators and industry bodies to help them develop agreements with their international counterparts for UK professional qualifications to be recognised overseas. This will make it easier for UK businesses to export their services worldwide.

Following the success of the first round of funding, which has supported work to boost the presence of UK qualified professionals in accountancy, auditing and legal services in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and India, the second round of the Recognition Arrangements (RA) Grant Programme is now open.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

The UK’s professionals in sectors like accountancy, audit and legal services, are rightly recognised as some of the brightest and best in the world.

This additional funding will further support UK qualified professionals to export their expertise overseas, winning contracts and scaling up their businesses.

The additional funding comes as part of the government’s plans to ensure UK-qualified professionals have the support they need to grow their businesses on the international stage.

Under the Professional Qualifications Act, the UK government can ensure regulators have the ability to agree recognition arrangements with overseas counterparts.

Following the first round of the grant programme, which saw high demand and interest from regulators, this second round will go on to continue and expand these vital efforts to boost British services exports in essential overseas markets.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) successfully secured funding for round one of the programme. Sarah Rapson, Executive Director of Supervision, said:

The FRC is very pleased to hear that a further round of grant funding will be available from BEIS. The availability of previous funding has enabled us to bring in the additional expertise required to support our international recognition work.

We would encourage UK professional accountancy bodies engaged in international recognition work to consider applying for a grant and make use of this valuable source of funding support.

The Recognition Arrangements Grant programme will run until 31 March 2025, with grants of up to £75,000 per financial year awarded to UK regulators and industry bodies, and a further round planned for applicants seeking 2024/2025 funding.

Link: Fresh funding to boost British exports of professional services overseas
Source: Assent Information Services