Brexit, business finance and the strategy for Cumbria’s growth were at the top of the agenda at an event held by the Northern Powerhouse yesterday.

The Northern PowerUP event introduced the audience to speakers Joe Clease, of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Sue Barnard, of British Business Bank, Stuart MacLennan, of Cows & Co and Corinne Watson, of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.

It was part of a series of events across the North designed to help business leaders find out how to access millions of pounds-worth of investment funding and business support.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, a £400m investment fund launched in 2017 by the British Business Bank, has already directly invested £100m into 385 Northern SMEs.

Mrs Barnard told delegates that the fund was one of a number of brands co-ordinated by the bank.

It has helped more than 500 businesses in Cumbria and firms can take advantage of small loans to equity investments. It has enabled local businesses to scale up through product launches, expansion into new markets and investment in staff and infrastructure.

The event, at the People First Conference Centre in Carlisle, was told by Mr Clease about the support offered by the Government to business and that Whitehall was continuing to prepare for Brexit, whatever form it came in, including no deal.

He urged people to keep up-to-date with developments via the website.

Stuart MacLennan, one of the four directors of Cows & Co, which operates the Appleby Creamery, spoke about his company’s vision for the future.

It has moved to new premises in Appleby and set up a satellite operation in Russia.

The business received £250,000 from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund to help it expand. Mr MacLennan said: “We wouldn’t be doing anything like this if we hadn’t received the funding.”

Ms Watson talked about the LEP’s Local Industrial Strategy.