What grants are available for small businesses?

It’s well worth taking the time to apply for a grant. The cash injection can help new businesses to survive and to thrive. So whether you’re a start-up or a company looking to grow, there’s no shortage of business grants available in the UK. 

The qualifying criteria for grants are usually based on location or sector. They can also be given because you use the grant for specific purposes, such as job creation or making eco-friendly changes. The funding you go for will depend on your business.

To help you to understand ‘what grants are available for small businesses,’ this article will cover:

  • The difference between a small business grant and a loan?
  • Where to find small business grants?
  • What grants are available for small businesses?
  • 9 great places to start looking for a business grant

Whether you’re a sole trader or owner of a small business, Countingup has several tips and tools to help you manage your finances effectively.

The difference between a small business grant and a loan

If you take out a small business loan, you’ll have to pay it back in full in a certain amount of time. With a small business grant, in most cases, you won’t need to repay the money. However, make sure you read the small print. Some grants may require you to invest the same amount of money you receive. For example, if you receive £10,000, you would also need to invest £10,000. Plus, in some cases, you might need to pay the money back.

Where to find small business grants

Finding grants for your small business will depend on the location, the size of your company, and the sector in which you operate. 

To get a feel for what’s available for your business, it’s worth doing some research with an internet search engine. However, there are more official channels you can use — the government has a tool for finance and support for your business to get you started. 

Under the type of support you’re looking for, select ‘grants.’ You’ll also be able to filter down your options by region, number of employees, and industry.

Small business grants in England

The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) website lists all 38 Growth Hubs* across England. Each hub covers a region so that business owners can find help from national and local authorities in one place. 

*A Growth Hub is a network that provides information, advice and support for business within a defined local area.

Small business grants in Wales

If your small business is in Wales, you can use the Welsh government’s funding locator to see what grants are available.

Small business grants in Scotland

In February 2021, a new funding model came into effect in Scotland. The aim is to create “a simpler, more inclusive funding model that will help create jobs and a greener economy.”

If you’re based in Scotland, you might be able to find a grant suitable for you on the Scottish Enterprise website.

Small business grants in Northern Ireland

Enterprise Ireland lists several ways your existing small business can receive financial help if you’re based in Northern Ireland. There’s also a High Potential Start-Up funding if your business idea has “the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale on international markets and the potential to create ten jobs and €1m in sales within three years of starting up.”

9 great places to start looking for a business grant

If you don’t have time to look through the various government websites right now, we’ve listed some of the best places you could look for a small business grant.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Lottery distributes a wide range of grants from £3,000 to £5million and over. Its homepage offers a step by step guide on how to receive funding.

The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme

If you’re 18-30 and looking to ‘start something’ such as a business, The Prince’s Trust is a great place to look for help. They have a free enterprise programme that they run from centres all around the country. The programme has four stages aimed at helping you to get your business started.

Innovate UK Smart Grants programme

Innovate UK Smart Grants help deliver R&D innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy. 

New Enterprise Allowance

Suppose you or your partner currently receives Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. In that case, you’re a lone parent, sick or disabled and on Income Support, the New Enterprise Allowance might be able to help you with your new business idea.

British Council Grants

British Council Grants fund research, travel and workshops. Have a look at their website for current opportunities.

Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG)

Receive a maximum of £30,000 per project from Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) for creating multi-purpose woodland.

Grow It Award

Grow It Award helps to fund entrepreneurs who aim to solve a social issue. You can apply for up to £15,000 to help you grow along with a support package of one-to-one coaching, training, mentoring and access to networks. They’re focusing their funds on building access to employment, developing resilient communities and finding solutions for an ageing society.

Heritage Enterprise UK

This fund is for restoring neglected historic buildings and sites. Community organisations can get a grant between £250,000 and £5,000,000 from Heritage Enterprise UK.

CRACK IT Challenges

CRACK IT Challenges is a challenge-led competition that funds collaborations between industry, academics and SMEs to solve business and scientific challenges. Depending on the challenge, contracts of up to £1m for up to three years are available.

Understand your finances with Countingup

By setting up a Countingup business current account, you can manage all your financial data in one place. The app comes with free built-in accounting software that automates the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping and taxes. You’ll receive real-time insights into your business finances, profit and loss reports, tax estimates, and unpaid invoices. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward!

Download the Countingup app to apply for your business current account in minutes. All you need is proof of ID and a selfie. Download the app here.