A £20,000 fund has been launched to support York’s small businesses with their environmental efforts.

First York has set up the York Go-Greener Fund to help independent owners and small firms develop their eco-friendly practices and products that directly appeal to customers.

The fund is open to retail, leisure, hospitality, health and beauty and other consumer services.

Small business operators are being urged to apply by the deadline on May 31.

Ten successful applicants will each receive £2,000 to boost their growth ideas.

Videos showcasing the ten successful businesses will go to a people’s vote, with the winner having the chance to be featured in a film about the region’s sustainable achievements and businesses.

It is being made by York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub and will include leading voices on climate change.

The Federation of Small Businesses and the Growth Hub have helped to draw up the criteria for applying and how the fund money should be used.

Carolyn Frank, of FSB York & North Yorkshire, and Sue Jefferson, of the business board, at York & North Yorkshire LEP, will help to assess and decide the winners with First York managing director, Ian Humphreys.

He said: “Thriving, successful independent small businesses on the streets of the city and our outlying communities will always be essential to York’s prosperity.

"We know one of the challenges for them and others of all sizes is how to achieve growth at the same time as helping to reduce the carbon footprint of operations and customers to meet regional and national environmental targets.

“Sustainability in products and services is increasingly valued by customers and we want to help small business owners by giving them a financial boost to build on what they’re doing and put new plans into action.”

Ian added: “I would encourage York’s small business owners to get thinking how the Fund could help them and submit an entry quickly. There is not long to get applications in as we want to be able to make the awards in June so they can get started as soon as possible.”

Carolyn said: “We know that small businesses are keen to play their part in achieving net zero. Many are already making good progress, by mitigating their environmental impact, but they often don’t have the funds or resources to take bigger steps towards greater sustainability.

“It is fantastic to see First York supporting York businesses with cash prizes to help them move forwards with innovation in sustainability.

“At FSB we are supporting small businesses to accelerate their progress, with resources to empower them including our new sustainability hub, and research into what barriers they face to achieve a successful small business transition to net zero.

“First York are really demonstrating their ongoing commitment to York’s independent high street and city centre sustainability with this exciting and generous fund and we are delighted to partner with them once again, supporting York’s small businesses together.”

Sue Jefferson said: “Having a sustainable business model makes sense. Employees, shareholders and customers want businesses to be actively tackling environmental issues.

"This initiative is in line with York and North Yorkshire’s ambitions to become the UK’s first carbon negative region and will showcase new ideas on how local businesses can achieve a greener, fairer and stronger future.”

Applications should be submitted at www.firstbus.co.uk/yorkgogreenerfund