Small business grants in the UK

Flexible monthly business insurance
20 April 2021
4 minute read

Small business grants can make a world of difference to new ventures that need help getting off the ground. They can save you money, lower your startup costs and span different regions, sectors, ages and types of businesses. So, whether you’re just starting out or want to keep growing your startup, there’s a wide range of business grants to consider.

With hundreds available in the UK, it can seem tricky to find a small business grant that’s right for you. That’s why we’ve done the research and answered the questions for you.

You can discover which small business grants are available as well as other funding options in our Big Guide to Entrepreneurship. It includes heaps of other useful stuff, like writing a business plan, recruiting your first hires and how to grow your business.

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What’s the difference between a small business grant and a loan?

A small business loan is money for your company that you need to pay back by an agreed time. A small business grant is money that never needs to be paid back.

Some startup grants might come with a condition that you need to invest the same amount of money in your business. For example, if you receive a £10,000 grant you also need to invest £10,000 yourself.

Are there government grants for small businesses?

Yes. In fact, most small business grants in the UK are funded by the government. They are offered to eligible businesses and don't need to be paid back.

Take a look at the list of tools and government grants below – for both startups and established businesses – to see which would suit you best.

How do I find a small business grant or loan?

There are lots of tools to help you search for grants that you're eligible for or that are in your area.

To find a local business grant in your specific location, you can use the government’s grant search tool.

Try Support For Business’ excellent business grant finder. It’s packed full of useful information, and you can filter the results in your area.

You can also search for UK small business grants using the government’s Finance and support for your business search function, just be sure to check the ‘grants’ box.

What small business and government grants are available in the UK?

Pushing the frontiers in your field? You could apply for Research and Development (R&D) tax relief. Innovative projects in science and technology are eligible, even if the project is unsuccessful.

If you’re developing innovative products or business ideas, why not try for a grant from Innovate UK? Funding is available to support “new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.”

Working on heritage? From designed landscape to community history, a wide range of projects are eligible for support from the Lottery Heritage Fund.

Small business grants in England

In England, the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) Network website is packed full of business funding information, support and guidance. If you’re based in England, visit their website to see what support you could get.

Small business grants in Wales

In Wales, you can use the Welsh government’s Funding Locator to find support near you. You could also apply for a startup loan with the Development Bank of Wales.

Small business grants in Scotland

In Scotland, you could apply for a business grant through Scottish Enterprise, which is aiming to make funding simpler and more inclusive and is targeted at businesses that want to create jobs and contribute to a greener economy.

Small business grants in Northern Ireland

And in Northern Ireland, grants to start a business include NISPO II’s Proof of Concept grant (for pre-launch startups) and Invest NI grants for more established companies.

You can also find the High Potential Start-Up Funding, which supports startups that have the potential to create an innovative product and sell it across international markets, hire 10 people and make €1m in the first three years.

Visit Enterprise Ireland to learn more.

New Enterprise Allowance

If you or your partner currently receives Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, you’re a lone parent, sick or disabled and on Income Support, the New Enterprise Allowance could help you.

It provides mentoring and a small allowance. Once you’ve created a business plan which your mentor approves, you could get an allowance of up to £1,274 over 26 weeks plus help accessing a loan. Speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach to apply.

Use the government’s enquiry form to ask the National Apprenticeship Service about the funding available.

The Prince's Trust

The Prince’s Trust provides grants for people aged 18-30 who want to start their own business. Alongside business grants, they also provide on-the-job training, courses and mentoring. To find out more, discover how the Prince’s Trust supports starting a business.

Tips for finding new business grants in the UK

New grants can come up at short notice, so keep checking back or set up a google alert with specific keywords for your region, sector or type of business.

A business grant isn’t just a source of funding, it could give you the peace of mind you need to bring your idea to life and take on your endeavor with confidence.

If you’re starting a small business, don’t forget to get business insurance to make sure you’re covered.

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