What funding is available for small businesses?

August 8, 2023

In a turbulent economic climate, small business funding can be a lifeline for Britain’s entrepreneurs. It’s perhaps never been more difficult to run a small business, what with rising salary expectations, high inflation, a cost-of-living crisis, increasing regulation and a host of different pressures. That’s why there is a huge range of funding for small businesses available, including some grants that you may not be aware of and could well be missing out on.

In this guide, we’ll explore just some of the funding for small business that is currently available in the UK, so you can take full advantage of the helping hands that are available to you.

Our pick of small business funding opportunities

The number of small business funding schemes and opportunities runs well into three figures. For example, the search facility from the Department for Business and Trade lists 125, and that is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s far too many for us to cover them all here, and we’ve picked out a selection that may be suitable for your business venture:

R&D Tax Credits

If you’re working in science and technology, and you’re working to advance knowledge in a particular field, then you have the opportunity to apply for R&D Tax Credits. You’ll have to demonstrate how you have overcome an uncertainty in your area of expertise, or are trying to do so. If you can achieve this, then you can receive relief on your Corporation Tax bill, which can make a substantial positive difference to your finances in the long-term.

Countryside Stewardship

The Countryside Stewardship encourages conservation of the natural spaces across the UK, offering financial incentives for rural businesses such as farms and land managers to improve the environment. There are currently more than 250 different schemes and grants available, with the aims of improving habitat, biodiversity, water quality, air quality and natural flood management. The grants available range from squirrel control and management through woodland restoration to installing wildlife boxes.


Social issues play a bigger part in the business world today than they ever have before, with customers and employees alike wanting to make positive contributions to creating a more equal society. UnLtd offers two grants to small businesses that are aiming to make a difference to people’s lives, or improve communities or the country as a whole. Startups who want to pursue a new idea can apply for up to £8000 of funding, while established small businesses that are already running a social venture can apply for as much as £18,000 so they can take their ideas further.

Workplace Charging Scheme

With electric vehicles becoming more commonplace around the country, both for personal and business use, the WCS is designed to encourage more EV charging points to be installed at business premises. If your business meets the right criteria, and has suitable locations for charging points to be installed, then the WCS will cover up to 75% of the cost of the installation. This is capped to a maximum of £350 per charging point, and a maximum of 40 points across all the sites within your business.

Beauty Backed Trust Grant Programme

The beauty industry is made up of a huge number of small businesses, and many of them faced a particularly difficult time during the pandemic. The Beauty Backed Trust Grant Programme was launched in October 2021 with the objective of helping small businesses in the industry bounce back and continue to thrive in the long-term.

There are two types of grant available, the first being the Start-Up Grant for entrepreneurs who are just starting out and need help getting equipment and stock in place. The second is the Support Grant for existing businesses who could benefit from additional help and guidance. In both cases, the maximum grant value is £5000 and certain criteria apply, including that candidates have relevant qualifications within the beauty industry.

UK Seafood Fund

The UK Government has set up the Seafood Fund to support the long-term sustainability of the seafood sector, with a total of £100 million of funding available. Businesses that contribute in four areas are able to apply: science and innovation, infrastructure, skills and training, and exports support. One of the stated aims of the scheme is to ‘encourage new entrants to the industry and upskill the existing workforce’, making it suitable for some small business startups that are fishing and seafood-focused.

CITB Grants Scheme

If your small business operates in the construction industry, then there are a variety of training-focused grants that are offered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). These grants are designed to enable businesses to support newcomers to the industry with apprenticeships, courses and qualifications. From your perspective, the benefit is that you can upskill your workforce and encourage new employees to succeed while getting plenty of financial help along the way.

Local Enterprise Partnerships

Across England, there are nearly 40 Local Enterprise Partnerships which bring together local authorities and businesses. Each one has its own bank of funding available that can be used to provide grants to smaller enterprises in their region. Funding decisions are made depending on the benefit that a business can deliver to its local area, especially in developing skills and infrastructure, and improving the community as a whole. All types of businesses are able to apply for LEP funding in their designated area.

The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme

The Prince’s Trust has always worked hard to support new opportunities for young people, and is able to help small businesses who want to do the same through its Enterprise Programme. Any UK residents between the age of 16 and 30 can apply for development awards of up to £250 that support their training, or any tools and equipment that they need for their jobs.

From a business perspective, the award can also be used by new employees to cover their transport costs until their first payday. Offering this to your new hires can go a long way into easing the process of getting up to speed.

Boiler Upgrade Scheme

If you run your small business from home, then any domestic grants you apply for can have a knock-on benefit for your enterprise, too. A great example of this is the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which encourages the public to replace their fossil fuel-based boilers with a biomass boiler or a heat pump, helping to reduce emissions and potentially reduce energy bills, too.

Innovation grants

If you’re bringing new ideas to market or working on shaking up your industry with new products and services, then there are several innovation grants that may be open to you. These aren’t necessarily focused on science and technology, but also cover innovation in other areas such as the media, creative industries like design and the arts, and sustainability-focused initiatives like net zero. New grants become available all the time that are related to innovation, so it’s worth checking back regularly to see if anything new has come up that you can apply for.

Digital Growth Grant

This nationwide scheme is aimed at tech entrepreneurs who are either running small businesses already or are aiming to create a startup in the near future. The scheme is run by Barclays Eagle Labs, but has been fully funded by the UK Government. As well as some financial support, businesses can access resources that can support their growth, including mentoring, research, events, learning materials and sector-specific support.

Get small business insurance with Protectivity

One of the key benefits of small business funding means that it frees up some of your other income for other important spending and investment. And one of the most important things you’ll ever spend money on is insurance.

At Protectivity we provide affordable, comprehensive liability insurance cover to a wide range of small business ventures. From builders insurance and painters and decorators insurance to catering insurance and crafters insurance. To discover the flexible small business insurance options for your enterprise or idea, get in touch with our team today.