Grants: your questions answered

Getting your hands on free funding can be a tricky business. Here we answer your most frequently asked questions about accessing grants.

What types of government grants are available?

There is a range of government support available to people wanting to start their own businesses, not only through grants and other funding but also through numerous advisory, guidance and information services.

Government grants are almost always awarded for a specific purpose or project and are usually for proposed projects only – not for those that have already started. Most require you to match the funds you are being awarded. In other words, the grant covers a proportion of the money needed, while you supply the rest.

Depending on your location, type of business and what you need the funds for, you may be eligible for a number of grants and support.

Where should apply?

Please see our article 150 UK small business grants to apply for right now. It includes potential sources of help with starting up a business and schemes from central and local government as well as private organisations.

Some grants offer financial assistance, while some offer free or subsidised services ranging from advice through to practical involvement with projects. While many schemes are available nationally, some are targeted locally.

Are there grants available for training?

Some industry associations offer training grants. You would have to search within each specific sector. An example is the CITB for the construction industry.

You may also be able to offset courses taken against your tax liabilities. The test for whether expenses are allowable as a deduction against income for tax purposes is whether they are ‘wholly and necessarily incurred’ in pursuit of the trade or business. This is a stiff test but there are some grey areas.

Expenditure on ‘training’ is usually allowable but if the expenditure results in a qualification or a new skill for the business owner it may be more difficult to justify. As an example, if you decide to set up a business as a motor mechanic and decide to go to evening classes to pass examinations, the cost of the course would not be allowable as a deduction for calculating your tax liability. If your business employs a trainee mechanic and as a condition of employment pays for them to go to college, the expense would be allowable. Remember also that there are grants for apprenticeships.

What funding is available for environmental projects?

There may be some grants available. Check our article on where to find green small business grants for more information.

If you are looking to cut down on your overheads by using more energy-efficient equipment, The Carbon Trust has a downloadable guide that introduces the main financing mechanisms available to help businesses invest in energy efficient equipment, allowing businesses to save energy, cut costs and increase profit margins.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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