How to approach constituent funding enquiries: general advice and resources
This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
This page outlines some sources of financial and non-financial support for businesses. It is not an exhaustive list. It includes government funding, investment funding and non-financial support and advice.
There is more detail in the Library briefing Support for small businesses.
For broader funding enquiries, please see the Library casework article Finding funding for constituents.
Sources of information
Government and Government bodies
The Government’s Help to Grow campaign provides a wide range of information about government advice and support for starting, growing or exporting a business. It includes links to information about support in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Businesses can search for government support, financial and non-financial, by business stage, industry, number of employees and by region on the government website Finance and support for your business.
The Government’s Business Support Helpline offers free advice by telephone and online. There are separate numbers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The telephone numbers are:
0800 998 1098 (England)
0300 303 0660 (Scotland)
0300 060 3000 (Wales)
0800 181 4422 (Northern Ireland)
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner provides information and advice about payment issues, such as late payments and unfavourable practices, throughout the UK.
Local Enterprise Partnerships
In England, Local Enterprise Partnerships and their local Growth Hubs provide free support and advice about sources of funding. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are business-led and partnered with local authorities; a local authority itself is also likely to be a good source of advice about local and specific support.
British Business Bank
Better Business Finance is a collaboration between the main UK banks, managed by UK Finance. It provides “impartial information and support to businesses”. The SME Finance Charter consists of five commitments from UK banks to support SME customers.
The Grantfinder database is available to Members and their staff only via the Library website Resources page. It is a “continuously updated database of UK and EU funding sources, including grants, loans and advisory schemes”. When searching it is possible to specify sources by government, corporate, charitable and lottery.
Loan, investment and other schemes
Please note that the list which follows provides signposts to some individual schemes; more information, including eligibility, is available via the link for each scheme. The British Business Bank administers many of the schemes; its Programmes are listed on the website. The list which follows is by no means exhaustive.
New schemes offering government support for energy bills are described in the Library casework article Constituency casework: Government support for energy bills. This includes all energy support schemes introduced in 2022.
The Help to Grow: Management Course is a leadership course funded by the government and aimed at small businesses.
Start Up Loans
A Start Up Loan is a government-backed personal loan available to individuals who wish to start or grow a business in the UK. It offers loans of up to £25,000 together with free mentoring.
Other lending schemes
In its new iteration the Recovery Loan Scheme, originally part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, aims to improve the terms available to business borrowers. It supports a wide range of financial products and business purposes.
The ENABLE Programmes are also designed to encourage lending to small businesses, supporting lenders such as banks and other financial institutions to expand their lending.
Equity investment is the process of raising capital through the sale of shares in a company. Investors take an equity stake in the company with the aim of selling at a profit when the company has expanded. There are a number of tax incentives to encourage equity investment.
Business angels and the Angel CoFund
The Angel CoFund makes equity investments in smaller businesses in the UK. It invests alongside strong syndicates of ‘business angels’ to support businesses with strong growth potential. There is more information on the ACF Investors website. The British Business Bank has a close relationship with the ACF as an investor and partner.
Venture capital schemes
HM Revenue and Customs guidance provides outlines of two schemes designed to help SMEs grow by offering tax relief to individuals, who are shareholders for a specific period of time. They are the Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.
Enterprise capital funds
The Enterprise Capital Funds programme exists to help prospective fund managers in establishing funds. It combines private and public money to make equity investments into businesses with high growth potential: the British Business Bank invests alongside venture capital funds to improve the outcome for private investors, thereby encouraging them to invest in smaller businesses.
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.