Sage Advice UK

Government grants for small businesses

With the government pledging to help SMEs through the stages of start-up and growth, there is a range of funding for small businesses to take advantage of. Follow our guide to government grants.

Regional Growth Fund (RGF)

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

Since 2011, £1.7 billion has been allocated to RGF programmes, supporting more than 9,400 small and medium-sized businesses. To be eligible, your business must be based in England, have a growth plan, create or protect jobs, and be investing private capital. See a list of ‘live’ RGF programmes and funding opportunities.

Start-Up Loans

This government-funded initiative provides loans, mentoring and support for start-ups or very small, early-stage businesses with potentially viable propositions but who are unable to attract investment from high-street banks.

To be eligible, businesses must be yet to launch or have been trading for less than 12 months. The scheme provides free business planning to ensure applicants are in the best possible position to receive funding. Every loan application is considered according to the needs of your business, with an average loan size of around £6,000. The final loan size will be determined by your business plan. Find out more about Start-Up Loans.

Guide to alternative funding

Discover 10 sources of funding for your business and how to apply in our essential guide for startups and small businesses.

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Government grants

Small businesses grants are available from the UK government, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Each grant provider has its own application process and criteria for applying.

For a full list of providers use the government’s business finance support finder. This tool allows you to search for funding opportunities based on the location, size and type of business you run.

UK Export Finance (UKEF)

UK Export Finance helps UK exporters by ‘underwriting’ bank loans offered to overseas buyers of UK products and services. This means it takes on the risk of the loan from the bank, so that the bank is more likely to offer it.

It can also help UK exporters to raise tender and contract bonds and access working capital finance. To be eligible for export insurance, your business must be based in the UK and the buyer must be overseas. Find out more about UK Export Finance (UKEF).

Business Finance Partnerships

With government investment of £1.2 billion, the Business Finance Partnership is designed to diversify the sources of funding available to small and medium-sized businesses via non-bank lenders.

Loan terms will vary, but businesses can directly apply for finance with a number of non-traditional fund managers and lenders. Find out more about Business Finance Partnerships.