The best grants for small business and startups in 2024

Government Grants For Small Business In The UKThere are hundreds of government grants available for small businesses – Which will save your money, lower start up costs and help to grow your businesses.

Read our guide to finding and getting a government business grant for your start up. Government grants for new start up businesses in the UK cover a range of awards – from saving money on premises and rates, through to buying cheap plant or IT equipment.

Business grants come in a number of forms, with over 200 government grants for small businesses available across the UK.

While there are lots of grants available, getting a small business grant from the government can be a challenge. Government grants are often complex with lots of processes and stages, and each grant will have its own requirements and criteria for applying.

What’s the difference between a loan and a grant?

Loans and grants offer distinct financial avenues with unique implications for individuals and businesses. The fundamental difference between a loan and a grant lies in the aspect of repayment.

When obtaining a loan, borrowers receive a sum of money from a lender, be it a private institution or the government, with the obligation to repay the borrowed amount along with interest in predetermined installments. On the other hand, grants provide financial assistance without the need for repayment.

They are typically awarded by governments, charitable organizations, or trusts and come with specific conditions, aimed at supporting those in need or promoting public causes.

While loans offer access to funds with the responsibility of repayment, grants bestow financial support as a generous gift, providing recipients the opportunity to pursue their endeavors without the burden of debt.

What types of business grants are available?

Within the United Kingdom’s extensive array of financial opportunities, an impressive selection of business grants stands ready, each meticulously tailored to serve unique and specific purposes. Notably, this comprehensive range includes:

Direct grants

Direct grants represent a remarkable avenue through which businesses receive cash directly to support and finance specific projects. These schemes often incorporate the concept of fund matching, whereby any funds raised by the business to cover the project expenses are matched by an equivalent amount of grant funding – effectively requiring the business to contribute half of the required funds.

To ensure transparency and responsible utilization of these grants, there are typically specific conditions governing how the allocated funds can be spent. Such measures are put in place to guarantee that recipients act in good faith, directing the funds precisely towards the intended project and its objectives. By adhering to these guidelines, businesses demonstrate their commitment to the project’s success, while fostering accountability and integrity throughout the grant utilization process.

Resource and training grants

If you seek to bolster your business’s capabilities, investing in skills and gaining access to valuable resources is essential to propel your project towards success. Fortunately, a range of resource and training grants stand ready to assist you in your endeavors:

  1. Innovation Vouchers: Open the doors to up to £5,000 worth of support and guidance from external experts or consultants. These grants, facilitated by Innovate UK on behalf of the government, cater to both startups and established SMEs. Whether it’s research and innovation, cutting-edge technology, or intellectual property, Innovation Vouchers provide the assistance you need.
  2. Local Business Support: Explore the potential benefits of local authority business support grants. These invaluable resources can fund training workshops, expert advice, business accelerators, and various other forms of training. By tapping into these grants, you can tap into the expertise that will drive your business forward.
  3. Business Support Networks: Sometimes, the best guidance comes from fellow business owners or seasoned entrepreneurs. Business support networks offer peer-to-peer advice, making them an excellent option, especially for businesses engaged in emerging technologies or seeking best-practice insights.
  4. Business Support Helplines: Access advice and financial aid through a variety of government-backed schemes designed to assist your business. Whether you require help with taxes, exporting, or crafting a comprehensive business plan, these helplines provide valuable resources. For detailed information, visit and uncover a wealth of support.

With these resource and training grants at your disposal, your business can flourish and rise to new heights of excellence. Embrace the opportunities before you and unlock the potential for growth and prosperity!

Tax relief

Navigating the intricate realm of taxes while running a business can indeed prove challenging. However, the UK government extends a helping hand through a range of well-crafted schemes, alleviating the tax burden on small businesses.

  1. National Insurance Relief: A potential relief of up to £4,000 awaits businesses with employees. It’s important to note that this relief is applicable to each business as a whole, not for each individual employee. Additionally, businesses operating as limited companies with only one company director and no other employees may not be eligible for this particular relief.
  2. Business Rates Relief: If your business occupies a single property with a rateable value below £15,000, you could be eligible for valuable business rates relief. As part of ongoing Covid recovery plans, the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will enjoy a year-long 50% discount on business rates, providing additional support during these challenging times.
  3. Employment Allowance: Unlock the potential to reduce your national insurance contributions for staff by up to £5,000 annually, a substantial relief that can significantly ease financial strains.
  4. Corporation Tax Relief: While the current main rate of Corporation Tax stands at 25% (as of April 2023), businesses with taxable profits below £50,000 may qualify for ‘Marginal Relief.’ This allows them to benefit from the lower 19% rate (small profit rate), with a gradual increase towards the main rate of 25% for taxable profits between £50,000 and £250,000. For detailed information on allowances and reliefs, visit the government website, your invaluable resource.

Embrace these tax relief opportunities with confidence, as they pave the way for greater financial stability and growth. The government’s support is at your disposal – seize the opportunity to enhance your business’s prospects and thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Who is eligible for grants? (Offer types of grants for each group)

The eligibility for different types of business grants can indeed be influenced by your specific circumstances, making each opportunity tailored to your needs.

For startups seeking a solid foundation, there’s a wealth of options, including startup grants, distinct from government-backed Startup loans. These grants serve a diverse array of business requirements, empowering entrepreneurs to embark on their ventures with confidence.

Discover some of the current startup grants available, each offering unique advantages:

  1. The Prince’s Trust: An esteemed institution providing grants and support to ambitious individuals aged 18 to 30, nurturing their aspirations to establish and manage their own businesses. In addition to grants, The Trust extends mentoring, training, and other invaluable resources, fostering success at every step.
  2. New Enterprise Allowance: This program offers vital funds to start or develop your business, subject to certain conditions. To be eligible, you must be 18 or above, with either you or your partner receiving Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance, or Employment and Support Allowance. Alternatively, you could qualify if you receive Income Support and are a lone parent, sick, or disabled.

As a testament to the government’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship beyond London, the 2021 Autumn Budget announced the launch of a remarkable £150 million “angel investors” fund. This forward-thinking initiative seeks to encourage the emergence of startups outside the capital, opening new doors for aspiring business owners. Learn more about angel investors and their potential impact on your business with our insightful guide.

With tailored grants available for startups, your entrepreneurial journey can be fueled with financial support and expert guidance. Embrace these opportunities, and watch your vision evolve into a thriving reality, backed by the support of these prestigious grants.

Grants for young people

Empowering Young Entrepreneurs: Unveiling a World of Grants for Ambitious Minds!

In addition to the esteemed support from The Prince’s Trust, a plethora of other grants beckon young individuals aged 18 to 30, embarking on their journey to establish their own businesses. Embrace a realm of possibilities with some noteworthy grants, including:

  1. UnLtd: A beacon for social entrepreneurs, UnLtd extends funding and unwavering support to those driven by the pursuit of social change. With a focus on creating positive impact, UnLtd empowers young visionaries to bring about transformative societal advancements.
  2. Shell LiveWIRE: Embracing innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, Shell LiveWIRE opens doors to a world of knowledge, skills, invaluable networks, and abundant resources. Aimed at helping young entrepreneurs achieve their business aspirations, this grant fuels job creation, fosters sustainable income, and nurtures a culture of innovation.

These prestigious grants stand as beacons of opportunity, propelling young minds towards success and societal betterment. For aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to make a lasting impact on the world, these grants offer the wings to soar high and turn dreams into reality. Embrace the support and encouragement of these grants, and let your entrepreneurial spirit flourish as you shape a brighter future for yourself and the world.

Grants for businesses with apprentices

In the UK, there is a system in place called the Apprenticeship Levy, which is a government initiative to encourage employers to invest in apprenticeship training. Here’s how it works:

  1. Apprenticeship Levy: Large employers with an annual pay bill over a certain threshold are required to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. This is a tax, and the funds go into an employer’s digital account, which can be used to pay for the training and assessment of apprentices.
  2. Funding for Levy-Paying Employers: Employers who pay the Apprenticeship Levy can use the funds in their digital account to cover the full cost of apprenticeship training and assessment. On top of this, the government provides an additional 10% incentive payment.
  3. Non-Levy-Paying Employers: Smaller employers who do not meet the threshold to pay the Apprenticeship Levy can still receive government funding to support apprenticeship training. The government pays 95% of the training and assessment costs, and the employer is responsible for paying the remaining 5%.
  4. Payment to Training Providers: The government funding (whether from the Levy or for non-Levy employers) is usually paid directly to the training providers who deliver the apprenticeship programs.

It’s essential to note that the funding rates, thresholds, and specific rules may change over time, so I recommend checking with the UK government’s official websites or relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information on apprenticeship funding.

If you are a business owner interested in participating in apprenticeship schemes or seeking funding for apprenticeship training, you should reach out to the appropriate government department or an approved training provider for guidance on the latest funding options and eligibility criteria.

Grants for women

Here are some examples of grants for women in the UK:

  1. The Women’s Start-Up Fund: Offered by the UK government, this fund provides financial support and mentoring to female entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses.
  2. Innovate UK Women in Innovation: This grant is aimed at female entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas and projects in the fields of science, engineering, technology, or industrial design.
  3. The Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) – for Women in Social Enterprises: This program, run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), supports women leading social enterprises with funding and training.
  4. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program (UK): This program supports UK-based women-owned businesses that focus on environmental and social sustainability.
  5. The Prince’s Trust Women in Business Programme: The Prince’s Trust offers support, mentorship, and funding for young women aged 18-30 who are starting a business.
  6. Small Business Grants UK: While not exclusively for women, this grant program awards funds to small businesses, including those run by women, across various sectors.
  7. NatWest Back Her Business: This program offers crowdfunding opportunities for female entrepreneurs in the UK, providing support and additional funding for their ventures.
  8. Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Enterprise Fellowship: This fellowship supports women with innovative business ideas in science and technology fields.
  9. Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards (UK): While not specific to the UK, this international competition includes UK-based women entrepreneurs and provides funding and mentorship for innovative projects.

Remember to thoroughly research each grant program, check eligibility criteria, and follow the application process. Additionally, be sure to stay updated on any changes to these programs and explore other potential grants and funding opportunities that may become available in the UK.

Grants by region

Unlocking opportunities for your business may be closer than you think! Depending on your business’s location, there could be a treasure trove of grants and support waiting for you. Countless counties have taken proactive steps to invigorate their local economies, whether by boosting employment opportunities or empowering recent graduates.

These initiatives are fueled by dedicated funding allocated specifically for such purposes. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you qualify for some of these resources, which can significantly aid your entrepreneurial journey.

For instance, let’s take Mansfield in Nottinghamshire as an example. This vibrant area offers a specialized business start-up grant tailored to boost local ventures. By tapping into such initiatives, you can access valuable financial backing and guidance that cater to the unique needs of your region.

Grants by trade

Depending on the industry you operate in, a plethora of valuable support awaits, ranging from grants to enriching training opportunities and engaging workshops that can give your enterprise a remarkable edge.

Take, for instance, the specialized world of UK food and drink manufacturing. Under the auspices of the noteworthy scheme, FEAST2, skilled artisans in this sector can avail themselves of a generous 25% contribution towards their production costs. Such initiatives reflect the government’s commitment to fostering growth and innovation within various industries.

The key to unlocking these exclusive advantages lies in discovering whether your particular trade is eligible for additional assistance. Delve into government-provided information that delves into the realm of sector-specific support. You may be surprised at the multitude of opportunities that await your business domain.

Grants for energy-efficient workspaces

In the realm of business, there exists a host of compelling government incentives and grants specially designed to cater to environmentally conscious entrepreneurs. These initiatives focus on encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices, elevate energy efficiency within their operations, and contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions.

If you are contemplating a refurbishment project in the near future, embracing eco-friendly strategies and ‘going green’ could present an exceptional opportunity to secure funding support for your endeavors.

Notably, some businesses may be eligible for government assistance of up to £6,500 to aid in the realization of their sustainable ambitions. It is, however, pertinent to note that these grants may be region-specific, tethered to particular areas within the United Kingdom. In fact, certain UK counties have initiated their own projects aimed at ‘decarbonising’ their localities, further highlighting the government’s commitment to sustainable development.

Tips for getting a grant

Securing a grant for your business or project can be a highly rewarding endeavor, but it requires careful preparation and strategic approach. To increase your chances of success, consider these valuable tips for obtaining a grant. Firstly, thoroughly research available grant opportunities that align with your business’s objectives or project’s goals.

Tailor your application to meet the specific criteria and requirements of each grant, highlighting the impact and value your endeavor brings. It’s essential to present a compelling and well-structured proposal that clearly communicates your vision, objectives, and anticipated outcomes. Be diligent in gathering all necessary documentation and evidence to support your application, including financial statements, project plans, and relevant data.

Engage with the grant-giving organization or agency, seeking guidance and demonstrating your commitment to making a positive difference. Lastly, submit your application ahead of the deadline, ensuring it is error-free and meets all the submission guidelines.

By demonstrating passion, clarity, and a strong case for funding, you can increase your chances of securing the grant and bring your aspirations to fruition.

Contact the awarding body before applying

Establishing direct communication with the awarding body can prove to be a strategic move in enhancing your grant application prospects. Initiating contact allows you to provide additional insights about your business, fostering a deeper understanding of your vision and objectives. This proactive approach becomes particularly valuable when encountering any hurdles or challenges that might delay the application process.

By establishing a personalized contact within the organization, you gain a valuable ally who can offer valuable advice and guidance on navigating the next steps effectively. Sharing pertinent information about your business can create a stronger connection, potentially influencing the decision-making process positively.

Remember, open communication demonstrates your commitment and determination to succeed, showcasing your willingness to go the extra mile in pursuit of the grant opportunity.

Apply as soon as possible

When seeking grants, timing can make all the difference. Considering the substantial volume of applications that awarding bodies receive, submitting your application early is a prudent approach. By acting promptly and applying as soon as the grant opportunity opens, you gain a distinct advantage.

During the initial stages, competition tends to be less intense as awareness about the grant might still be limited. Staying vigilant and continuously searching for suitable grant openings are crucial aspects of this strategy. Keeping a watchful eye on announcements and updates will enable you to identify relevant grants as they become available.

This proactive approach ensures that you are well-prepared to submit your application promptly, increasing your chances of standing out and securing the grant that aligns with your objectives. Remember, early action is a key factor in gaining an edge in the competitive grant landscape.

Consider a consultant

Consider hiring a grant consultant if you lack time to monitor upcoming grants. They can handle the application process efficiently, track submissions, and communicate with awarding bodies, especially for large bodies that are challenging to contact.

While consultants can be costly, their expertise may significantly increase your chances of securing funding. However, be cautious, as some awarding bodies may not accept applications submitted through consultancies.

Weigh the benefits and costs carefully before making a decision.

Pay close attention to the grant’s objectives

Clarity and precision are paramount when applying for grants. Ensure a comprehensive understanding of the grant’s specifics and ascertain that your business meets all the necessary requirements.

Substantiate your application with compelling evidence and articulate the reasons for seeking funding and precisely how it will be utilized to advance your objectives.

Presenting a well-documented case will enhance your credibility and bolster the likelihood of securing the much-needed support.

Is any other government support available for businesses?

In addition to grants, various government schemes can offer invaluable assistance with funding and business expenses in 2023:

  1. Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund: Geared towards businesses in the north of England, this fund, facilitated by the British Business Bank, provides financial support to micro-businesses for their inception or expansion through debt finance or equity investment.
  2. Venture Capital Schemes: The government offers four schemes that grant tax relief to investors, enabling you to attract crucial investments for your business growth plans. Visit the government website for detailed eligibility criteria and more information.
  3. Energy Bill Relief Scheme: This scheme offers a substantial discount on business energy bills for a six-month period commencing from October 1, 2022. Check if your business qualifies through our guide, “Does the energy price cap apply to businesses?”
  4. Energy Bills Discount Scheme: Replacing the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, this new initiative runs for 12 months starting from April 1, 2023. It provides eligible businesses with discounts on their gas and electricity contracts. Learn more in our comprehensive guide to the Energy Bills Discount Scheme or watch our explanatory video.

By exploring these government schemes and identifying the ones that align with your business needs, you can unlock vital financial support and propel your enterprise towards further growth and success in 2023.


The UK government provides a range of grants and funding opportunities for small businesses across different sectors and industries. These grants are intended to support the growth and development of small businesses, encourage innovation, and stimulate economic growth. Some of the key government grant schemes for small businesses in the UK include the Small Business Grant Fund, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, and the Future Fund.

Small business owners can also access grants through various government departments and agencies, such as Innovate UK, which provides grants for research and development projects, and the British Business Bank, which offers loans and grants to help businesses access finance. To qualify for government grants, small businesses typically need to demonstrate their financial need, show how the grant will be used to create jobs or contribute to economic growth, and meet other eligibility criteria set by the grant provider.

Business Finance specialist at Invoice funding | + posts

Seasoned professional with a strong passion for the world of business finance. With over twenty years of dedicated experience in the field, my journey into the world of business finance began with a relentless curiosity for understanding the intricate workings of financial systems.

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