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Finance and funding


Government financial and other assistance



Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Government guarantee schemes

  Enterprise Finance Guarantee

  Export Finance

AGE 16-24 Apprenticeship Grants

Innovate UK

Creative England


Start-up loan

Regional Growth Fund

Other Government funding programmes



Government and other forms of financial assistance come in many different forms, including guarantee schemes, loans and grants. These may be national or regional in scope. There appears to be no centralised database of information. However, Business finance and support finder (part of GOV.UK) provides an online tool to assist in identifying potential publicly funded support for businesses depending on the legal structure, sector and geographic location.

Lord Young's report published in May 2012 "Make Business Your Business" is essential reading for those new to this subject. General internet searches on financial assistance and grants for small and medium sized businesses will reveal many further sources of information; see in particular: jb4grants.

Tax reliefs for certain types of investment are important considerations. See our section of Taxation.

The following considers some of the more general and well known forms of assistance and include:

* Government guarantee schemes including the Enterprise Finance Guarantee and the    Export Enterprise Finance Guarantee

* AGE 16-24 Apprenticeship Grants

* Innovate UK
* Creative England

* Nesta

* Start-up loan

* Regional Growth Fund

* Other Government funding programmes

Public procurement regulations

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/102) implement in England, Northern Ireland and Wales the EU Public Sector Procurement Directive is implemented, which sets out modernised rules for the procurement of goods, services and works above certain thresholds by public authorities.

The Government undertook a consultation exercise on the new regulations in 2014. At that time, the Government stated that it wants to level the playing field for providers of all sizes, and it hoped that 25% of government spend would be with SMEs by 2015. The regulations were to benefit SMEs by encouraging buyers to break large contracts into smaller lots and capping turnover requirements for businesses.

Public-sector procurement from 31 January 2020

See: Information for public authorities, businesses and other organisations on the outcome for public procurement policy from 31 January 2020.


Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

For information about financial assistance aimed at businesses located in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, see:

Northern Ireland business support finder

Scotland's Business Gateway


Government guarantee schemes

Enterprise Finance Guarantee

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (“EFG”) is a scheme which enables participating lenders to obtain a government backed guarantee for a loan if the borrower and the proposed loan meet certain criteria.

The borrower will be eligible for an EFG  if:

* The lender would be prepared to offer the borrower a non-scheme loan facility if full security was available;
* The lender believes that the borrower has a viable business plan and that the EFG facility can be repaid;
* The lender believes that a term loan, overdraft, or invoice finance facility is the appropriate arrangement to use in terms of the borrower raising finance;
* The borrower is engaged in an eligible business activity;
* The EFG facility is to be used for an eligible purpose;
* The borrower’s business turnover does not exceed the annual turnover limit of £41 million;
* The borrower does not want to borrow more than the maximum amount of £1 million or less than the minimum amount of £1,000; and
* Provision of the EFG facility does not contravene the relevant regulations in relation to any previous State Aid received by the borrower.

The EFG will cover 75% of the loan. In exchange for the EFG, the borrower will be charged an annual premium of 2% of the outstanding loan balance, payable quarterly in advance.
Additional security: even if the proposed loan does qualify for an EFG, the lender is still permitted to require personal guarantees from the directors and/or shareholders of the borrower. However, the lender is not permitted to require as security for the loan a mortgage or charge of a residential property.

Further information on the EFG scheme including a list of participating lenders is available from the startups website.

What’s new [see What’s new page or archive for full item]:

27/03/2013: Government pilots trade credit scheme via EFG

The Government is piloting an extension of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (‘EFG’) scheme to assist small construction firms to secure credit from trade suppliers. Customers of B&Q TradePoint and Screwfix, part of the Kingfisher Group, may apply for a credit account of up to £25,000, where previously they may have struggled to secure credit due to a lack of security or adequate credit history. Existing trade customers will be able to apply to extend their accounts for credit of up to £50,000.

Export Finance

UK Export Finance (UKEF) helps UK exporters to:

* win export contracts by providing better financing terms to their buyers

* fulfil orders by supporting working capital loans, for example, to meet the costs of new export opportunities

* get paid, by insuring against non-payment

Government and other grants and assistance

Some government and local authority grants are available for individuals intending to start up a business and existing SMEs, usually in particular localities or business areas.

National schemes include:

AGE 16 to 24  Apprenticeship Grant for Employers

AGE 16 to 24 is available until 31 December 2014, subject to eligibility and availability.

The AGE 16 to 24 Grant for Employers aims to support businesses, who would not otherwise be in a position to do so, to recruit individuals aged 16 to 24 into employment though the Apprenticeship programme.

The National Apprenticeship Service will provide AGE 16 to 24 to eligible employers, in respect of qualifying apprentices, with an individual value of £1,500. Employers can be paid ten grants in total during the lifetime of the initiative.

AGE 16 to 24 targets employers with less than 1000 employees, who are new to Apprenticeships or haven’t enrolled a new recruit or existing employee onto an Apprenticeship programme in the previous12 months.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board. It is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

Its functions are to:

* provide new support for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with high-growth potential;

* make sure that government initiatives such as SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) attract innovative UK businesses and give companies access to important customers in the public sector;

* •identify and invest in the sectors that have the greatest potential for innovation to speed up economic growth;

* •help innovative companies work with their backers so their ideas can be developed commercially

Funds to assist in the development of an innovative product or service may be available, you may be able to apply for funding of between £5,000 and £10 million.

Innovate UK runs funding competitions which are open to all UK based companies. Some are also open to research organisations working with business. Innovate UK awards funding to the winners of these competitions.There are different funding competitions depending on the size of business you have and the type of industry you are in.

Grants are available from £150,000 to £10 million from Innovate UK to run a research and development project. The funding may be used to test and develop an innovative idea and make it successful. .

Innovate UK works with the research councils to run 4 Catalysts:

* Agri-Tech Catalyst

* Biomedical Catalyst

* Energy Catalyst

* Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst

Funding is available for up to 60% of project costs. You will need to fund the remaining costs yourself. To qualify for Catalyst funding you must:

* be a UK business (or thinking of starting a business) or a research organisation

* work in agri-tech, biomedical, energy or industrial biotechnology industries

* work with a research partner or other business on this project

Creative England

Creative England is a not-for-profit organisation whose objects are to mobilise public and private resources to garner as much support and investment for the creative industries as possible.

It works with a wide range of partners and investors from commercial brands and companies such as Google, Facebook and KPMG to local authorities, cultural bodies and universities, national government, and the European Commission.

Tthe Superfast Broadband Fund aims to improve cross sector collaboration and innovations. It is funded by Creative England's Regional Growth Fund and managed by Creative England in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council and Onlincolnshire. The B2B initiative is looking for new digital solutions to aid problems faced by the rural market,

The fund totals £150,000 and will be distributed as small grants of up to £25,000. The investments are to total no more than 50% of the total development budget for the project with the remaining 50% secured by the applicant prior to the closing.


Nesta Get Funding supports a small number of exceptional ideas that meet its aims as a charity. It proves support - through grant funding, direct investment or challenge prizes.

Start-up loan

A Start Up Loan is a government funded scheme to provide advice, business loans and mentoring to startup businesses.

The Start Up Loans Company lends on the basis of need up to a maximum of £25,000. Our average loan size is £6,000, but the final amount will be determined by your business plan. The interest ratet is currently set at a fixed rate of interest – 6% nominal.

Regional Growth Fund

The Regional Growth Fund (RGF) is a £3.2 billion fund, helping companies throughout England to create jobs between now and the mid-2020s. The payment of Regional Growth Fund money is spread between 2011 and 2017. Regional Growth Fund supports projects and programmes that are using private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment.

businesses, looking for funding of less than £1 million, can apply for support through Regional Growth Fund (RGF) programmes. Regional Growth Fund (RGF) programmes are schemes run by national or local organisations that have been awarded RGF cash to offer grants and/or loans to eligible businesses.

To be eligible businesses must:

* be based in England

* want to strengthen or grow their business

* create or protect jobs

* be investing private capital

* be unable to find funding elsewhere for the application

* •be state aid compliant

Each Regional Growth Fund programme will have specific criteria for applications. You will need to check this when you apply.

Other Government funding programmes

Other Government funding programmes include the following (at the time of writing):

Arab Partnership Participation Fund

The Arab Partnership is the UK Government’s strategic response to the Arab Spring.
Partnership is the UK government’s strategic response to the Arab Spring

Broadband Delivery UK

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is delivering superfast broadband and better mobile connectivity to the nation.

Information on the Government’s delivery model for the Superfast Broadband Programme and State aid is explained on the State Aid Advice web pages.

Businesses can benefit from broadband connection vouchers available in the 22 ‘SuperConnected Cities’ across the UK. Businesses can check eligibility and apply at the Connection Vouchers website .

Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) portal

How to submit a research proposal through the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) portal.

Capital Markets Climate Initiative

Guidance on the government's CMCI programme to raise private funding for renewable energy projects in the developing world.

Contestable Policy Fund

What it is and how to get involved with the bidding process for contestable policy projects

Counter-proliferation programme

Countering weapons proliferation is central to the government’s efforts to safeguard Britain’s national security and to support stability around the world.

Domestic Programme Fund: bidding process

The fund is for voluntary organisations working to protect victims and end the abusive act of forced marriage; view the last successful bid list.

Employer ownership: improving engineering careers - smaller companies: Guidance on how to apply for employer ownership funding to improve engineering skills in smaller companies

Energy Companies Obligation: brokerage

How ECO providers can sell lots to energy companies in return for ECO subsidy, what are the rules and who can trade.

Funding for development research

Details of calls for new funding opportunities in development research run by the Department for International Development (DFID) or its development partners.

Grant for Business Investment

A capital grant to businesses that support sustainable investment in England

Digital Marketplace

Suppliers of cloud-based services: offer services to the public sector.

Human Rights and Democracy Programme

The Human Rights and Democracy Programme (HRDP) is the FCO’s dedicated annual fund supporting human rights and democracy work overseas. Through targeted projects, it aims to lift the capacity of governments and civil society to promote and protect human rights.

Innovation funding for low-carbon technologies: opportunities for bidders

How to enter open competitions or bid for upcoming contracts in government-funded low-carbon projects up to 2015.

Promotion schemes for agricultural products

Apply for European Union (EU) funding to promote agricultural products.

Prosperity Fund programme

The Prosperity programme is the Foreign and Commonwealth’s fund to tackle climate change, strengthen energy security and promote an open global economy in key emerging economies.

Research funding from Defra

Applying for research funding from Defra, calls for expressions of interest, and application forms.

Reuniting Europe programme

The FCO fund supporting Turkey and Western Balkans countries with the reforms necessary for EU accession.

Science and Society Community Challenge grant scheme

Supporting individuals and organisations to create and run pilot projects which take science to diverse audiences.


Mode Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) for rail and inland waterways
Waterborne Freight Grant (WFG) for coastal and short sea shipping

UK carbon capture and storage: government funding and support

How the government supports the design, construction and operation of commercial-scale CCS.

What’s new [see What’s new page or archive for full item]:

11/03/2020: Key budget 2020 points for supporting business

The key business support measures announced in the Budget are:

  • Launching a fundamental review of business rates that will report in the autumn
  • A new pubs discount will be introduced to take £5,000 off the business rates bills of eligible pubs with a rateable value below £100,000
  • The Employment Allowance for Employer National Insurance Contributions is increasing from £3,000 to £4,000. Over half a million businesses will benefit from this reduction to their costs of employment, with an average gain of £850 per year
  • The Structures and Buildings Allowance for Corporation Tax will be increased from 2% to 3%, giving relief on an extra £100,000 next year if you’re buying a building worth £10 million.
  • £28m package and up to 10,000 Start-Up Loans to support entrepreneurs and businesses to start

17/02/2020: Government launches new business support campaign

Source: GOV.UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Department for International Trade

The Government has launched a new business support campaign, designed to help businesses to find the right support as part of our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work and grow a business. As part of the campaign, government support will be advertised across a range of media, from billboards and newspapers to radio and social media.

All of the government’s business support schemes for England will be accessible via the new Business Support site, making it easier for businesses in England to find out about the full range of support available to them. Business support in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is provided by the devolved administrations.

Schemes are divided into 4 areas:

* Finance and business planning: funding for new businesses and support to help existing business grow, dealing with late payments, and equity and debt finance

* Leadership and talent: mentoring schemes, help with recruiting, developing leadership skills or joining a network

* Innovation and technology: funding for innovation, adoption of new technology, intellectual property and finding partners for innovation

* Exporting and online: support for doing business internationally and expanding online

17/02/2020: Fredericks Foundation loans

Source: GOV.UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Fredericks Foundation loans are available for businesses that have been turned down for mainstream funding.


Poor credit loans up to £16,000

Start-up and Growth Revolving Loans up to £15,000

Growth Company Revolving Loans up to £35,000

NB: Maximum employees:249

Start-ups (1-2 years trading), Established

Agriculture and food

Business and finance




Hospitality and catering

IT, digital and creative



Real estate and property

Science and technology

Service industries

Transport and distribution

Travel and leisure

Utilities providers

Wholesale and retail

Bath and Bristol
























[Page updated: 16/03/2020]

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