Finance & funding

Getting the right type of finance for your business is essential. There are many different types available including loans, grants and investment - each of them designed to meet different needs.

Grants to help businesses

Grants for farmers, foresters, rural businesses and communities

LEADER is a European Commission programme that offers grants to farmers, foresters, rural businesses and communities. The following themes are priorities:

  • Support for micro and small businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification
  • Rural tourism
  • Increasing farm or forestry productivity
  • Culture and heritage
  • Provision of rural services

Grants are available from Autumn 2015 to 2020.

The LEADER Local Action Group cover significant areas in the Forest of Dean & Tewkesbury Borough, overseeing the operation of the local grant programmes.

For more information on the LEADER Programme, including qualifying areas and how to apply visit:

Funding opportunities

To search for specific funding to suit your business visit:

Innovation funding

Innovate UK is the Government's innovation agency and it distributes grants to help businesses cover the cost of R&D activity. The grants tend to be competitions focussed on specific technologies which are announced at very regular intervals.  Innovate UK also runs "open" competitions which are not sector specific. It is worth checking Innovate UK's website regularly for recent funding announcements.

For more information please visit:

The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund

Energy efficiency support, energy assessments and funding for small and medium-sized businesses in England, Scotland and Wales. For information see:

Apprenticeship grants

Apprenticeship grant for employers of 16 - 24 year olds

The National Apprenticeship Service provides £1,500 grants to small and medium sized employers to take on new apprentices between 16 to 24 years old. The £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the Apprenticeship framework which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24.

Funding for young entrepreneurs aged 16 - 30 years

The Shell LiveWIRE programme offers free online business advice and funding to young entrepreneurs aged 16 to 30 in the UK. Funding is normally delivered through a series of monthly Awards and the programme has helped over 600,000 people since it was created.

Apprenticeship grant for employers of 16 - 24 year olds

The National Apprenticeship Service provides £1,500 grants to small and medium sized employers to take on new apprentices between 16 to 24 years old. The £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the Apprenticeship framework which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24.

Childcare Business Grant Scheme

The Childcare Business Grant Scheme is to support self-employed people who want to set up their own childcare business and provides help with costs such as training, equipment and adapting premises. The grants offer £500 for those looking to start nurseries or look after disabled children.

Forest of Dean Economic Growth fund

The Forest of Dean Economic Growth fund awarded over £75,000 throughout 2015/16 to support events, projects and initiatives to further economic growth, and support the long term viability and health of the towns and surrounding villages in the Forest of Dean. For information on successful applicants for round one and two of the funding see:

Loans for businesses

SWIG Finance

SWIG Finance is a not-for-profit organisation delivering loan finance across the South West to small and medium sized enterprises. Whether you are starting a business, struggling to raise finance or growing a social venture visit:

Start-up loan scheme

The Start-up Loan Scheme is a Government funded initiative that provides a business loan together with a mentor for people starting up a new business. 

For more information visit:

Funding Circle

Funding Circle is an online peer-to-business lending platform connecting businesses and investors, where businesses get fast business loans and investors earn returns on their investments. Funding Circle has funded over £330m in business loans so far and has created an estimated 16,500 jobs across the country. Furthermore, the UK Government has lent £60 million through Funding Circle during the past two years.

For more information visit:

Enterprise Finance Guarantee

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee is a Government loan guarantee scheme. The loans are available from ordinary commercial banks and can be up to £1 million, repayable over a period of up to 10 years. The scheme is open to viable businesses with an annual turnover of up to £25m. Contact your bank for further details.

Innovation Vouchers

Innovate UK's national Innovation Voucher scheme helps businesses gain the knowledge they need to innovate and grow. An Innovation Voucher helps businesses to work with an external expert for the first time by paying towards the cost of their services for all types of innovation including:

  • ideas for new or improved products, processes and services
  • using design to improve your ideas
  • managing your Intellectual Property

For more information visit:

Grants for research & development

The SMART Grant for R&D programme assists businesses, including pre-start-ups and start-ups, to run Research and Development projects in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge. Three types of grant are available:

  • Proof of Market (up to £25,000 grant)
  • Proof of Concept (up to £100,000 grant)
  • Development of Prototype (up to £250,000 grant)

For more information visit:

Dealing with business debt

Problems paying tax bills

HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) Business Payment Support Service is there to help businesses that are aware they may not be able to make a payment due in full before the payment deadline. For more information please visit the:

Organisations offering free advice on debt problems

For free, confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems visit:

For free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities and is experienced in helping with personal debt problems visit:

Further information on business finance

For further information and finance schemes that may not be listed  visit: