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Small Business Support Guide for the UK

Managing a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) in the UK can sometimes feel financially restrictive. While many may struggle to access private funds, there are government backed schemes available. Although some are available throughout the UK, others are restricted to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland respectively.

Starting a new business
The government offers advice for those who are starting a new business. This includes researching the market and developing a business plan, both of which are essential when seeking funding from private or public schemes. After this, new entrepreneurs need to find partners and suppliers, then register the business, before looking for funding.

Business funding schemes available throughout the UK
There are several lending programs supported by the government throughout the UK.

Enterprise Financial Guarantee Scheme
Under the Enterprise Financial Guarantee scheme, the government backs up to 75 percent of the business’ loan, and a private lender covers the remaining 25 percent. It is available to businesses with an annual turnover under £25 million, and they can borrow between £1000 and £1 million over a 10-year period.

There are some restrictions businesses should be aware of. The coal industry is not covered, and some areas of agriculture, forestry, finance, and transport are excluded.

Enterprise capital funds
Rapidly growing SMEs can access a £1 million investment over a 10-year period, which is partially backed by the government. There are no restrictions, but most of the successful applications have been granted to high-tech businesses. This scheme transferred to the British Business Bank in 2014.

Funds for England only

Local Enterprise Partnerships

Local Enterprise Partnerships are largely available in areas where local employment is dependent on the public sector. For example, the North East. Businesses that can meet employment deficits in a local area may be able to access grants under the partnership scheme.

Support for SMEs in Scotland

Scotland’s Business Gateway

Scotland’s Business Gateway features a search tool that allows businesses to search and apply for grants. There are over 400 sources of funding available in the area, some of which are restricted to certain localities or business models. Businesses do not have to repay the grants or sacrifice shares, providing they meet certain terms.

Scottish Enterprise and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Scottish Enterprise and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise both aim to develop businesses within certain sectors to encourage growth in Scotland. Funding for individual projects is available for numerous sectors, with many of the opportunities having very specific terms.

Support for SMEs in Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG)

The WAG offers a handful of grant schemes that are delivered to businesses fulfilling needs in Wales. For example, the Wales Economic Growth program offers funding of £100,000 and above to businesses that can secure employment in Wales. In addition, businesses that want to develop their employees’ skills can benefit from grants of £2,500 per employee, which help with training. Businesses operating in Wales can also turn to their local authorities for details of grant schemes.

The Welsh European Funding Office

The Welsh European Funding Office has made £2 billion worth of funds available to businesses in Wales, between 2014 and 2020. The program also ran between 2007 and 2013, with 10,400 enterprises successfully accessing funds. Businesses can make enquiries online.

Support for SMEs in Northern Ireland

Invest Northern Ireland

Invest Northern Ireland offers information on development schemes in the region. In addition to helping high-growth start ups find funding, Invest Northern Ireland points businesses in the direction of local grant schemes. Individuals who are not sure whether the grants available will meet their needs can seek guidance over the phone.

Northern Ireland’s Online Business Advice Service

Northern Ireland’s Online Business Advice service offers a grant finder, which is a searchable database of publicly-funded schemes. In addition to helping people find grants, it’s a good resource for those who are looking for free advice and assistance.

Grant applications are often lengthy, which means paying close attention to detail when making them is essential. By getting all the information right the first time, SMEs operating in the UK stand a stronger chance of making a successful application.

Click on one of the links for a  list of Financial Advisers, Solicitors and Bookkeping Services that may be of assistance to small business in the UK.

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