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Small Business Grants: What Is Available in the UK This Year?

Author Jon MillsJon Mills

16 min read
Money Talk

In this article, we run through the full list of grants available to small and medium-sized businesses across the UK. Discover the region-specific and UK grants that your business could be eligible for, and learn how you can apply for them. Let Osome lend a hand when you set up your business!

Small Business Grants: What Is Available in the UK This Year?

Here’s a definitive list of business grants that small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK can apply for this year. We also cover important aspects to help you understand the difference between a loan vs a grant for small businesses, how to know if you’re eligible and how the whole application process works.

Helping businesses set up in the UK is our speciality (and passion). Let us know if you want to kick around some questions or ideas with the Osome team!

What’s the Difference Between a Small Business Grant and a Loan?

Private lenders offer loans & require repayments + interest

On most occasions, interest is added to the amount borrowed from private lenders as a way to “charge for their service” to your small business. This is agreed upon upfront with the lender. These loans and any interest need to be repaid in the timeframe set out.

Publicly funded schemes award grants & don’t require repayment

Trusts, the government, and other charitable organisations usually award grants. This money is usually from a publicly funded scheme, and businesses who are awarded a grant are not expected to repay it.

Where Can I Find Small Business Grants in the UK?

There are a few factors that affect the kind of financial help your small business will have access to in the UK. This includes the industry you’re in, your location, the size and turnover of your business, and finally the type of financial support you’re looking for. Are you seeking a small business startup grant, or are you looking for funding to actively grow an existing business?

Use the government’s finance and support for your small business - they have an online tool where you can select the ‘grants’ tick box. From there, you can use the filters to add details about your business. You can then see what small business grants UK small businesses might be eligible for.

What Types of Business Grants Are Available?

From community groups and specialist industries to niche skills and crafts, there are various grants for small businesses available across the UK. Take a look at what those options are to get a better understanding of which government grant may be right for your startup.

Government Grants for Small Businesses

  • Boost4Health: Vouchers for SMEs looking to reach international markets.
  • Funding and advice for space services - UK: Funding for businesses who are seeking to develop a space-based service.
  • Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) - UK: Grant contributions to pay towards upgrading business broadband.
  • Heritage Enterprise (HE) - UK: Funding to help restore neglected historic buildings and sites and unlock their economic potential.
  • Horizon Europe funding: Funding for groundbreaking research that deals with challenges like climate change or food security.
  • Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS): Offers a maximum of £150,000 in tax reliefs for individual investors in your business.
  • £25,000 #BusinessBoost grant competition: A grant of £25,000 towards helping entrepreneurs launch a new business or help existing SMEs bounce back from COVID-19.
  • British Council Grants: Grants that go towards research, travel, and workshops.
  • £10,000 grants for small, ethnically diverse businesses: £10,000 grants for small, ethnically diverse businesses majority-owned by a person from a marginalised ethnic background with fewer than 15 employees and an annual turnover of less than £100,000.
  • Countryside Stewardship: Over 248 grants for improvements, from planting fruit trees to stone wall restoration.
  • Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG): Grants of up to £30,000 per project for the planting of multi-purpose woodland.
  • New Enterprise Allowance: Weekly allowance of up to £1,274 for unemployed people wanting to start their own business.
  • Heritage Enterprise UK: Grants of up to £5,000,000 for the restoration of neglected historic buildings and sites.
  • Architectural Heritage Fund: Grants of up to £350,000 for the transformation of high streets and town centres.
  • Vistaprint 99 Days of Design: Grants of £12,000 for SMEs seeking to rebrand themselves.
  • Fantastic Services £5,000 (Re)start grant: Grants of up to £5,000 to help people start their own businesses within the domestic service industry.
  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS): Grant for self-employed people impacted by COVID-19 who submitted a tax return on or before April 23 2020.
  • Advanced Learner loan are loans made available by the UK government for individuals above 19 years to take approved level 3 and above qualifications at approved colleges and training providers in England.
  • Innovate UK

    UK-based funding body Innovate UK offers grant funding support of up to £10M, to businesses making innovative developments toward technology and active research in seeking progressive ideas for growth.

    R&D Tax Reliefs

    Small businesses can reduce their tax burdens through a number of the government's grants for small business. With the R&D model, a business is paid cash from the government. If those government funds are used on projects linked to science or technology development and research, businesses can claim relief on certain related items - from utilities to staff and raw materials - to reduce their tax bill.

    To be eligible for a business start-up grant that offers R&D tax reliefs, your company needs to meet the following criteria:

    • Employment base of 500 or fewer staff members
    • Turnover of under €100m or balance sheet of less than €86m

    These tax credits are a way for the government to encourage innovation in companies looking to advance in these specialist fields. Here are a few examples:

    • National Insurance Relief - If you have employees, you may be able to claim National Insurance relief (for your business, not per employee). You won't be eligible if you run a limited company with no other employees or only one company director.
    • Business Rates Relief - These may be available to retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses that occupy properties with a rateable value of less than £15,000.
    • Employment Allowance - National insurance contributions you pay for your staff can be reduced by up to £3,000 per year with this relief grant.
    • Corporation Tax Relief - from April 2023, the rate of Corporation Tax on company profits will be 25%. In certain circumstances, you may be able to claim relief on this. For more info on these allowances, take a look at the official UK government overview.

    Grants for Unemployed Entrepreneurs

    The UK government’s New Enterprise Allowance scheme provided a weekly allowance of up to £1,274 for unemployed people wanting to start their own businesses and seek mentorship along the way. Though it’s now closed from participant applications, you could be eligible for a 12-month start-up period allowance if you claim Universal Credit. These payments are allocated according to your self-employed earnings. If your business is 2 years or younger, you may also consider looking into the Start Up Loans available through the UK government.

    Grants for Taking on an Apprentice

    If you want to train an apprentice to grow your business UK, you may be able to access support through a government grant. 95% of this grant is paid by the government directly to the training organisation, and the remainder is also paid directly by the small business itself. No apprenticeship levy will be applied if your bill for this training is less than £3 million a year. Ask the National Apprenticeship Service about the funding available through the enquiry form on their website if you’ve got more questions.

    Grants for Installing High-speed Broadband

    If your business is run from an area considered rural, the government may allocate vouchers to go toward installing new gigabit-capable connections. These contributions are the government’s way of updating business access to broadband. Check whether you are eligible for this gigabit voucher scheme and get more in-depth info on this financial support which can be worth up to £3,500.

    Air Quality Grant Schemes

    The air quality grant schemes have made funding available from the government to eligible local English authorities who are running businesses that focus on introducing clean air zones.

    The government has made funding available to some local authorities in England that are introducing clean air zones. Across the UK, 11+ cities are about to open low-emission zones. If you run a business in one of these zones, you could be eligible for a grant offering business support.

    Direct Grants

    As the name says, in the case of this government grant cash is made directly available to a business looking to fund specific projects. You will need to put up half the amount needed by raising money for your project, and the government will match the same amount of grant funding. With direct grants, you can expect certain conditions to apply in how the funds can be spent to ensure they are going toward the intended and appropriate projects.

    Resource and Training Grants

    The success of some projects relies on upfront investment into resources, access to specific expertise or even skills development. The government offers support in the form of resource and training grants, here are a few examples of these grants that can help you kick off your business ambitions.

    • Innovation Vouchers — Startups and established SMEs can be eligible for grants from the government that give financial support for projects linked to research and innovation (such as Innovate UK).
    • Local business support — You can check whether your local authority offers funding support for businesses who need to invest in any form of training, workshop facilitation and other business accelerator endeavours.
    • Business support networks — People who own businesses are often the best people to get expert support, peer-to-peer advice or mentorship guidance from - whether it’s to discuss specific technologies or even gain an understanding of best-practice initiatives within a certain field.
    • Business support helplines — Get financial help for your business along with sound advice. There is a range of UK government schemes that can assist everyone from business plans to tax and exporting.

    Grants To Help You Start or Grow Your Business

    • The National Lottery Heritage Fund: Supporting heritage projects that promote inclusion while boosting the local economy and encouraging skills development and job creation. Historical landmarks, museums, designed landscapes or parks and cultural traditions are all included.
    • New Enterprise Allowance: Those aged 18+ looking to develop or start a business can receive funding and support for their endeavours. Other eligibility criteria for this grant are that you or your partner must receive any of the following: Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. Alternatively, you should be a recipient of Income Support and be a lone parent, sick or disabled.
    • The Prince’s Trust: For young people aged 18–30, who want to start and run their own business. This grant offers funding, resources, training and mentoring.
    • Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs): Local authorities and businesses have established voluntary partnerships to provide guidance, funding and support in their regions.

    Who Is Eligible for Grants?

    Grants for Young People

    Along with the Prince’s Trust, there are a few other small business grants that support young and ambitious business people:

    • UnLtd - Funding and support for social entrepreneurs who use their platforms to bring about social change.
    • Shell LiveWIRE - Access to skills, knowledge networks and resources to drive innovation and sustainable businesses.

    Grants for Businesses With Apprentices

    The government grants funding to small businesses to finance assessment and training for apprenticeships, as well as the option to get funding as an incentive payment for other costs.

    There is an Apprenticeship Levy that applies to certain businesses based on their costs. If this levy is not applicable to your business, you will be eligible to pay 5% of costs toward apprenticeship training to the service provider directly. The remaining 95% is paid by the government, which is the maximum funding that they distribute directly to any training organisation. Enquire using the online form with any questions you may have about available National Apprenticeship Service funding available.

    Grants for Women

    UK organisations increasingly seek to fund woman-run and owned businesses to support their growth and success. Historically, male-owned businesses have been more likely to attract funding, however, there are not business grants that are available exclusively to female entrepreneurs.

    Business Grants by Geographical Area

    There are 38 regional Growth Hubs that have been set up in local areas to provide funding, support and guidance where it’s more relevant. The Local Enterprise Partnerships are listed on the LEP network website which is a single hub that gives access to an overview of support available both nationally and locally for business owners.


    Business loans, grants and funding - Scotland: Helping Scotland-based businesses find funding from public and private organisations.

    Scottish Growth Scheme: Financial support packages of up to £500m for Scottish businesses, with funding allocation value based on different schemes.

    Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development: Individuals and organisations in creative industries looking to adapt to changing conditions can access up to £100,000 of available funding.

    Temporary Closure grant: If your business has closed due to government-mandated lockdowns you could be eligible for a temporary closure grant of between £2,000 and £3,000. This is paid out every four weeks based on the value of your property.

    Scottish Edge: One of the up-and-comers with exceptional entrepreneurial prowess, this competition offers a prize of up to £100,000 in funding to foster Scotland’s high-growth talent.

    Forestry Grant Scheme: Any businesses involved in the management, creation and maintenance of woodland spaces are Grants focused on financially supporting businesses involved in the creation or management of woodland spaces.

    Culture & Business Fund Scotland: Pound-for-pound match-funding grants for projects costing between £1,000 and £40,000, aiming to encourage businesses to sponsor arts and heritage activity within Scotland.

    Workforce Upskilling Grant: Grants of up to £2,000 for SMEs looking to upskill their workforce (and they will cover 100% of the total cost).

    Orkney Islands New Business Start-Up Grant: New Business Start-Up Grant of up to £1,500 for new fully sustainable start-ups based in the Orkney Islands.

    West Dumbarton Business Start-Up Grant: Grants of up to £500 in start-up costs for new businesses based in West Dumbarton.


    Caerphilly Business Start-Up grant: Start-ups in the Caerphilly County Borough can claim a discretionary grant providing 50% of eligible costs of up to £500 (for expenditure on things like capital equipment, training, and building works).

    Community toilet grant scheme, Gwynedd County: Grants of £500 for businesses based in Gwynedd County if you allow your toilet to be used by the general public.

    Blaenau Gwent Kick Start Plus: Grant for start-up SMEs of up to £1,000, while applicants must match-fund 50% of the total funding.

    Circular Economy Fund: Grants of up to £200,000 for SMEs in the circular economy based in Wales, whose projects seek to increase the use of recyclables, or extend the lifetime of products through preparation for re-use, refurbishment or re-manufacturing activities.

    Local Places for Nature: Grants of up to £50,000 for capital projects in Wales that will acquire, revitalise, and enhance nature.

    Northern Ireland

    Proof of Concept Grant Fund: Grants of either up to £10,000 or a concept-plus grant of up to £35,000 for entrepreneurs with innovative product or service concepts.

    Skills Advancement Grant: Available only to customers of Invest Northern Ireland (unless you prove that your business will grow, export your product overseas, and create jobs in Northern Ireland). Applicants can receive up to £10,000 to go towards staff training for firms involved in manufacturing or internationally tradable services.

    DAERA forestry grants: Grant scheme for businesses involved in the expansion of forests, protection of existing forests, woodland management, and the ‘agri-environment’.

    Brexit Readiness Vouchers: Financial support of up to £2,250 towards professional advice relating to Brexit.


    Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk - England: Grants for the conservation of historic buildings, monuments and landscapes.

    Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) grants scheme: Grant schemes available throughout England.

    North West

    Key Fund - Midlands and the North of England: Grants for social enterprises in the North and the Midlands.

    Tourism grants - Eden: Grants for tourism-generating projects based in Eden, Cumbria.

    Premises Improvement Grants, Pendle: Grants for Pendle-based businesses of up to £3,000.

    Cumbria Infrastructure Fund: Grants towards business ventures that support infrastructure projects that enhance development, and create jobs and homes in Cumbria.

    Greater Manchester #SEEDIFFERENT SME Apprenticeship Support Grants: Grants of £3,000 may be offered to SMEs based in Greater Manchester that don’t pay the Apprenticeship Levy and haven’t employed an apprentice in at least two years.

    North East

    Key Fund - Midlands and the North of England: Grants for social enterprises in the North and the Midlands.

    North of Tyne Growth Fund: Grants for business growth projects that lead to job creation.

    PNE Enterprise - business support service - North East England: Grants for businesses based in the North East of England.

    Tees Valley Business Start Up programme: Grant funding for residents considering starting a business in certain priority sectors based in the Tees Valley.

    The Growth Fund: Grant funding of up to £200,000 for businesses based in Gateshead, South Tyneside & Sunderland.


    Product and Process Innovation - York, North Yorkshire and East Riding: 40% grant innovation funding for small businesses in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding.

    Growing Hull & East Yorkshire Business Investment Grants: Capital grants of up to £250,000 for SMEs in Hull and East Yorkshire to support and incentivise investment, growth, and job creation.

    Green Port Hull: Grants starting from £10,000 for Hull-based individuals or organisations looking to start, expand, or reorganise.

    East Midlands

    Key Fund - Midlands and the North of England: Grants for social enterprises in the North and the Midlands.

    DIT Internalisation Fund: Match-funded grants of up to £9,000 are available for East Midlands businesses.

    DRIVEN - ESF High-Level Skills programme: Grants to help SMEs in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to recruit talented students and graduates.

    Invest to Grow: Grants to support SMEs in the East Midlands to innovate, grow, and create jobs.

    Business Growth and Digital Growth Grants (GLLEP): Grant of up to £5,000 (contributing to 50% of overall costs) for Greater Lincolnshire-based SMEs seeking to increase turnover or create jobs.

    Growing Enterprise, Lincolnshire: Grant of up to £2,500 for SMEs based in Greater Lincolnshire — businesses have to pay the supplier for the full cost of the project before receiving the grant.

    Invest to Grow, Lincolnshire: Grants of up to £250,000 for Lincolnshire-based businesses making developments that enable the delivery of new jobs and commercial space.

    Business Growth Grant Scheme - Mansfield: Grants of up to £2,500 for existing businesses in Mansfield that can produce a growth plan leading to job creation.

    Business start-up grant scheme - Mansfield: Grant of up to £1,000 for new businesses in the Mansfield area.

    West Midlands

    Key Fund - Midlands and the North of England: Grants for social enterprises in the North and the Midlands.

    Heavy Duty Vehicle Fund: West Midlands-based SMEs conducting commercial operations in Birmingham could apply for up to £200,000 to upgrade their vehicle fleet.

    Business Energy Efficiency Programme - West Midlands: Grants to help businesses in the West Midlands reduce energy costs.

    Duplex Investment Fund: Combined grants and loans towards capital purchases for SMEs based in Coventry or Warwickshire.

    Low Carbon Revenue Grants, Warwickshire: Warwickshire City Council is providing grants aiming to commercialise low carbon products, covering 40% with a maximum of £6,000 funding.

    Low Carbon Innovation Grants, Warwickshire: Grants of up to £50,000 to go towards Warwickshire SMEs developing low-carbon products or investing in low-carbon technology, covering 40% of improvements.

    Business Energy Efficiency Programme (BEEP), Worcestershire County: Worcestershire County is providing ‘energy efficiency’ grants of up to £20,000 available to SMEs throughout Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Telford, Wrekin and Shropshire.

    Warwickshire County Council Growth Fund – Small Capital Grants: Warwickshire County Council is offering grants of up to £35,000 to SMEs with growth plans.

    Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Grants for Growth: Capital grants of up to £160,000 to be used to expand your premises or buy new plant, machinery and equipment. Project costs must be at minimum £35,000.

    Malvern Hills Enterprise Scheme: Grants of up to £1,000 for SMEs in the low carbon economy to go towards investment in the business’s own environmental sustainability.

    South East

    Civic Improvement Fund (ECIF) - Elmbridge: Grant of up to £15,000 to help the Elmbridge economy, including improving empty shopfronts.

    Elmbridge Start-Up Fund: This is a one-off grant of up to £1,000 to go towards start-up costs.

    Digital High Street Fund, Elmbridge: Grants to help independent high street retailers based in Elmbridge establish or upgrade e-commerce websites, with funding of up to 90% of costs, up to a maximum of £2,000.

    Enterprise M3 Growth Fund: Growth funding of up to £200,000 for businesses in Surrey and Hampshire.

    Reigate and Banstead Business Support Grant: Grants of up to £1,000 for SMEs with fewer than 4 employees that are based in Reigate and Banstead Borough.

    TALE (Transport and Logistical Efficiencies): Grants of up to £60,000 to help SMEs who transport goods or deliver services, to improve their use of data.

    The Business Hothouse: Grants between £5,000 to £120,000 for individuals starting or growing a business in the Coast to Capital LEP area.

    East Sussex Invest 7 (ESI7): Grants between £10,000 to £25,000 (with a minimum match-funding of 60%).

    Locate East Sussex: Grants between £10,000 and £25,000 for East Sussex businesses seeking to grow.

    Independent Retailer Grant: Grant of £1,000 to encourage independently owned retailers to take up ground floor premises that have been empty for at least 1 month (class A1 or A3) in Romsey and Andover.

    Small Business Grant Scheme, Crawley: Grants of up to £4,000 are available to Crawley-based businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

    Wenta grants: Social enterprise, Wenta, can offer up to £3,000 via support programmes for businesses based in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Enfield.

    Isle of Wight Rural SME Fund: Grants available for capital spending between £2,500 and £50,000 but 50% of the costs must be matched by private funds.

    East of England

    The West Lindsey Feasibility Fund (formerly the Gainsborough Feasibility Fund): Grants of up to £5,000 (you provide 50% match-funding) to support SMEs with professional fees or technical survey work.

    Business Energy Efficiency (BEE Anglia): Grants of up to £10,000 to help businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk to cut their carbon emissions.

    New Anglia Growth Through Innovation Fund: Grants up to £25,000 (paying for up to 50% of total project costs) to help businesses invest in innovation, research and development.


    It’s worth noting that most grants for London-based businesses are controlled by local councils rather than by the UK government itself. To find out more, check out your local council’s website.

    How Do I Write a Business Grant Proposal?

    Startups and established business owners are eligible for small business grants across various sectors which include the likes of:

    • IT Comms & Tech
    • Security
    • Transport
    • Environmental Sustainability
    • Manufacturing
    • Food
    • Health & Medical

    Here are a few tips to that’ll help you in writing a business grant proposal for government funding in the UK:

    • Write simply and clearly
    • Be specific, don’t waffle
    • Illustrate how you meet qualifying criteria
    • Show a direct link between access to grant and business goals
    • Quantify, qualify and define objectives
    • Provide evidence that you can deliver ROI
    • Include a detailed budget forecast

    Tips To Apply for a Small Business Grant

    Based on your business model or the stage you are in setting it up, you can explore the different options of small business grants available that are region-specific. Application processes will differ slightly, and you'll need first need to check your eligibility. Use the tips below to lay out your business grant proposal so you can send off your application and support on the next steps to success.

    • Have a solid business plan: This is the foundation that will lay the strategic direction and momentum for success
    • Tailor your application: Research what the grant-awarding body is looking for and tailor your application to speak directly to it.
    • Link funding to business: Be specific in unpacking how you’ll use the money grant to grow and expand your company ventures.
    • Apply early: There’s often a limited allocation of money in the pot for small business grants so getting an early application in should be top of mind.
    • Stay up to date on new grants: Keep abreast of news about new grant funds that are coming available which may be suited to your specific business needs
    • Evidence of a sound cash flow forecast: This can be useful when applying for financial loans and necessary to optimise how you manage your own business finances.

    Once you’ve laid out your small business grants proposal, you will be guided by the government and supporting bodies on the next steps toward success.

    Alternatives to Grant Funding

    There are alternatives for businesses that aren’t eligible for grant funding or have found that their applications haven’t had success. Finance, loans and other investment and venture capitalist options are other routes to explore. Make sure you get advice from an expert along the way for legal input and strategic direction that brings you to finance that fits your business.

    • Business Loans: A lump sum of money is borrowed and repaid, along with agreed interest over a set timeframe. The borrowing rate is 25% on annual turnover or a sum between £10,000 and £50 million.
    • Equity Finance: For new and small businesses, this is an attractive option to raise fresh capital. In return for a share of profits, shares of your company are sold to investors who in turn inject capital into your business venture.

    Get all the help you need

    Let Osome sort your financial admin and rest assured that your business is saving and earning every penny possible.

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