The UK government supports businesses, and small businesses in particular. In order to turn vocal support into more practical reality, it also makes available certain types of grants to businesses involved in specific areas of activity, or in particular regions.
The official view
A good starting point for any search for government-backed support in the shape of a grant for your business is their official website. This may also direct you to regional offices offering support for your enterprise.
A director of accountancy giants Ernst & Young has pointed out that the practice may be somewhat different, and that grant aid may in fact be quite difficult to secure.
Nigel Wilcock of Ernst & Young points out, for example, that grants for small businesses are principally under the control of European Union authorities, which determine the particular types of business activity which may qualify:
- Research and development (R&D) – specifically, research into new processes and products, with aid being granted in the form of R&D tax credit;
- Employment and training grants – although the emphasis is generally on those companies actually providing training, there remain a number of regional schemes related to local development policies and the need for particular types of employee;
- The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme, which aims to encourage the number of apprenticeships in the UK, offers grants of £1,500 for each of a maximum of 10 apprentices aged between 16 and 24 that are hired;
- UK environmental grants – through the auspices of EU funding, generally small amounts of grant funding is available for qualifying environmental activities in given regions.
Grants or loans?
For all the political capital that may be made from the apparent availability of grants to aid UK small businesses, the reality may be harder to secure. So what is the alternative?
Where the application for grant-aided funding may be long drawn out – and still unsuccessful at the end of the day – there are some short-term business loans for which you may apply online, typically receive a decision the same working day, and have the comfort of the funds reaching your company’s bank account within minutes of your application’s formal approval.
This type of small business loan is generally available for amounts between £1,000 and £50,000 (depending on the provider), with repayment terms selected by the borrower and typically running for periods of between one month and 24 months. Some lenders may also allow early repayment of the loan without imposing any of the penalties sometimes associated with early settlement.
At Merchant Money, we are able to help you further with any cash flow problems by allowing reduced repayment instalments for an initial period with our Low Start Loan.
These particular loans are available for established limited liability companies only, which have directors all over the age of 18 and two of whom are prepared to offer personal guarantees for the repayment of any loan advanced.