Often the biggest hurdle for small business owners and entrepreneurs is finding the cash flow to start or expand their vision.
Whether that’s a microbrewery in East London or a hair salon in Leeds, funding and grants can often be the make or break for a company trying to get off the ground.
In the UK, there are several ways your business can find the investment you need to become a success. This guide outlines some of the grants and non-repayable schemes available.
What is a business grant, and how is it different from a business loan?
A business grant is a sum of money offered to you, which you don’t pay back. Grants are often awarded to businesses by the government or institutions, and are essentially gifts.
Some grants have specific terms and conditions attached to them, for example, if you’re offered a grant of £15,000 you must have that amount invested already.
A business loan is a sum of money which you borrow, typically from a bank, with the agreement that you will pay it back in instalments, plus interest.
UK grants for small businesses
The Prince’s Trust
If you’re aged between 18-30 and live in the UK, you can apply for funding with the Prince’s Trust. They offer an Enterprise scheme which is a mix of support, training courses, plus the opportunity to get funding for your business.
Learn more here.
Innovate UK is a sector of the government which connects businesses to partners, customers and investors who can help them turn their ideas into commercially successful products and services. They have a wide range of L&D projects and offer a range of funding opportunities for each project.
Find opportunities here.
If you’re a business that’s taking on apprentices, you could be eligible for government support and funding to cover the training costs. If you’re an employer with a pay bill over £3 million, you’ll need to pay the apprenticeship levy. If not, you can apply for funding where you pay 5%, and the government will cover the other 95%.
Find out about apprenticeship funding here.
Regional Growth Funds
The Regional Growth Fund (RGF) has supported eligible projects and programmes raising private sector investment. So far, it has contributed £2.6 billion to small businesses across England.
RGF money is available through a small number of RGF programmes which are run by national or local organisations. If you require less than £1 million, you may be able to apply to an RGF programme.
Find out more about the RGF programme here.
Where can you find grants for your small business?
The above schemes are several well-known business grants; however, there are a number of smaller and lesser-known opportunities that are available across England and the wider UK. A lot of the funding will be on a regional or local level.
Where to find small business grants in England
The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) Network champions the impact and value of LEPs in building local economic growth and prosperity across the country. It’s a great source of knowledge and data as well as a hub for business funding and grants.
Their website lists 38 different regional growth hubs where you can search for guidance and funding opportunities.
Find out more about the LEP here.
Where to find small business grants in Scotland
Scottish Enterprise offers grants and loans to businesses across the country. Their grants can help cover the costs of a new project or idea and range in size depending on business idea and suitability.
Find out more about Scottish Enterprise funding here.
Where to find small business grants in Wales
The Welsh government website ‘Business Wales’ has a specific section dedicated to business grants. It includes details on the application process as well as useful resources.
Visit Business Wales here.
Where to find small business grants in Northern Ireland
Enterprise Ireland offers a range of support to businesses, tailored to suit their stage of development. Their ‘Supporting SMEs Online Tool’ is a new cross-governmental guide to help small businesses know which of the over 80 Government supports could fit their business.
Access the online tool here.
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