Last updated Dec 13, 2023 and written by Laura Azevedo

What government grants are currently available to small businesses?

If you’re planning to launch your own business, there’s no harm in asking for help.

There are hundreds of government-run grants available to British entrepreneurs who want to lower their start-up costs, invest in innovation, and achieve much faster growth.

If you’re keen to take advantage of government grants for opening a small business, here’s our pick of some of the most useful schemes available right now in the UK.

Follow the links provided to learn more about the criteria for each initiative and find out if you are eligible to apply.

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

As one of the government’s most popular schemes for small businesses, SEIS provides tax efficient benefits to investors who provide early-stage funding to start-ups. If you’re successful, you’ll get access to much-needed capital, plus the skills and experience of investors with contacts and expertise in your sector.

The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme

The Prince’s Trust provides training, mentoring and financial support to help businesses develop great ideas and launch their products or services with confidence. The programme is open to UK citizens between the ages of 16-30 and offers grants of between £175 and £250. To be eligible, you will need to be working less than 16 hours a week (or unemployed) or studying for less than 14 hours a week.

British Council Grants

British Council government grants deliver finance for research, travel, and workshops through Going Global Partnerships. Funds can be used to support partnerships with universities, colleges, education policy makers and other bodies in the UK and internationally. These partnerships tend to be focused on projects relating to climate change, public health, and teaching opportunities.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

There are 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) between local authorities and businesses in the UK, which are organised and managed within various regional Growth Hubs. According to the LEP website, LEPs exist to empower local companies, generate private investment, and boost jobs and skills, amongst other benefits.

UnLtd Awards

Comprised of both funding and support, UnLtd Awards are for social entrepreneurs: those who have started, or are looking to start, a business with a distinct social cause (sometimes called a profit for purpose organisation). There’s up to £8,000 available for new organisations, and up to £18,000 available for more established companies between 1-4 years old that need help scaling up their operations.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency, which supports business-led innovation in all sectors, technologies, and regions across the country. It helps small companies hit their research and development goals by providing funding at various points throughout the year.

Research & Development Tax Credit Scheme

Research and development (R&D) tax credits aren’t considered government grants as such – but this type of tax relief is a brilliant option for businesses that can prove they are investing in new products, services, systems, or processes that have not yet been explored in their industry.

You can apply for R&D tax credits if you are embarking on a project that is scientifically or technologically uncertain, and you may even be eligible for this relief if your project is unsuccessful. Find more information on R&D tax credits on gov.uk.

The grants listed here represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything the UK government can offer start-ups and smaller businesses. Whichever scheme you choose, we wish you the best of luck with your application!