West Cumbrian businesses are being given a boost with a new loans scheme, introduced by Allerdale council.

Firms can apply for between £10,000 and £75,000 to help with expansion plans via the scheme, which has been set up with Penrith-based company Enterprise Answers.

The authority says it has already awarded loans of £155,000 to three local firms, including MPM Marine in Maryport, which says it will help it fulfil a new contract, which in turn will create 10 jobs.

Allerdale has allocated £250,000 from the £500,000 it receives from Sellafield Limited, designed to provide socio-economic investment into the borough.

The interest rate on the loans will be between six and 12 per cent, depending on the size of the loan, its length and any risks associated with it.

Mark Fryer, executive member with responsibility for economic development, said: “These schemes are really important to us and are designed to make best use of the money we have available to help local businesses grow.

"I’d encourage everyone who has an idea, or who wants to expand their current business, to get in touch.”

Grahame Latus, of Enterprise Answers, added: “The new loan fund is a welcome initiative which demonstrates the Council’s desire, coupled with the expertise of Enterprise Answers, for Allerdale-based SMEs to access the finance they require to unleash their potential and add to the economic value of the region through growth and expansion.”

Mike Hawkins, director of MPM North West, said: “This is an excellent scheme, which is easy to apply for and will be a real help to business in the area."

For more information, visit www.allerdale.gov.uk/invest