Small businesses make up the majority of the business landscape in the UK. with 5.4 million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) active as of 2015. This makes up 99% of all businesses within the UK and showcases their importance on keeping the economy moving.
Despite this fact, many SMEs still find it difficult to secure funding and struggle day to day for a number of reasons. As of December last year, research findings were released suggesting that more than half of all small business start-ups don’t last more than five years.
What government options are available?
There is help out there for many SMEs in the form of Government Grants. These grants set up by the UK Government, are available to all SMEs and cover a range of criteria. You can be very specific when looking for a grant to apply for and can apply based on geographical area, the type of business you are, or you can focus on how your business will benefit the community.
Whatever your business focuses on and wherever it is based, there is likely to be a Government Grant out there to suit your needs should you require it. You can see the full list of Government Grants and help available for your SME on the Gov.UK website.
To give you an idea of the types of grants available, how they work and how they could benefit you, we have put together a list of some of the most popular ones below.
Research and Development Grants
You will only be eligible for this grant if you are based in Scotland or are planning to establish your business there. This grant was established in order to support businesses that are developing new products, processes and services.
These are points that will be considered when deciding if a business is eligible for this grant or not:
- The business should be developing new products, processes and services
- The successful presence of the business will improve company competitiveness
- Will the business benefit the Scottish economy?
- The nature of the research and development involved
- Could they benefit or work with local companies?
- Is there a global market opportunity with what is being developed?
- Intellectual property
- The effect on the jobs market – does it help to create or safeguard jobs in the research and development sector
These loans are available to those looking to start or grow a business throughout the UK. They are Government-backed and are organised by the Start Up Loans Company. An interest rate of 6% fixed per annum is placed on all loans from £500 to £25000. Successful applicants receive free support to complete their business plan and recipients of a loan will receive free mentoring for 12 months.
Much like a personal loan, there is some specific criteria to fill before you can be approved for this loan. These include:
- You must be aged 18 or over
- Are a UK resident
- You have, or are planning to set up, a UK-based business which has not been fully trading for 24 months or more.
- You are not on a Debt Management Programme or Debt Arrangement Scheme currently.
- You are not currently bankrupt or on a Debt Relief Order (DRO) (and have not been discharged from one in the last two years).
- You are not currently part of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or Trust Deed (and have not been discharged from one in the last two years).
For more information on these, visit the Gov.UK website.
Access to Work
These are grants offered by Jobcentre Plus to help disabled people and their employers to overcome any work related obstacles which result from disability or long term physical/mental health conditions.
An employer can obtain up to £10,000 towards the extra employment costs which can result from employing a person with a disability. The scheme also offers support to disabled people who are setting up their own business and it promotes funding and equipment transfers, when the disabled employee moves employment or location.
The advisors that work on this scheme have more flexibility to decide what equipment is needed and therefore funded by the scheme. This gives more choice to disabled people who want to work but have struggled in the past.
There is more information about this scheme.
Better Business Finance
This grant provides UK businesses with free, quick and easy access to a directory of approved finance suppliers. Better Business Finance brings together a range of UK finances providers, such as business angels, regional funds and government schemes and banks, to help SMEs in need.
The directory is free to use and lets businesses refine their search criteria based on location, sector, amount of cash required and more. However, be aware your eligibility for this will depend on the individual provider.
Young Recruits Programme
This is a scheme organised by the Welsh Government and provides funding to support businesses taking on new apprentices. The programme pays £50 a week to businesses that are prepared to take on young apprentices.
This was created in a bid to lower youth unemployment and give the millions of young people around the UK struggling to get their first job the helping hand they need.
You can find out more about this on the Gov.UK website.
So there you have it, five great examples of Government Grant schemes that can help your SME with funds for research, employing staff, investing and more. There are many grants out there at the moment that really could help your business in the long run. If you are wanting to find out more about obtaining finance for your small business, then visit our dedicated page.