Grants and Finance

Looking for finance to help start your business?

The Government’s online guide Business Finance Explained can help you decide what type of finance might be best for your business and also provides a Business Finance and Support Finder.

Before seeking funding of any type, it is advisable to ensure that you have a viable business plan.  Advice on writing a business plan is available online, or alternatively Enterprise South (supported by Gosport Borough Council) can provide support locally for free, including face-to-face advisor support.

In addition the Solent Growth Hub can provide advice on the finance available for local businesses via its website or by calling one of its Navigator advisers on 01329 820898.

Nationally available funds

New Enterprise Allowance (NEA)

The NEA can provide money and support to help you start your own business if you are getting either Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support as a lone parent or Employment Support Allowance (if you’re in the work-related activity group).  A Jobcentre Plus adviser can refer you to the scheme as soon as you get a qualifying benefit.

The key points of the scheme are:


You could get:

  • a loan to help with start up costs
  • a weekly allowance up to £1,274 paid over 26 weeks
  • the loan has to be paid back, the allowance does not.

Any money you get does not affect your Housing Benefit, tax credits or Income Tax.


You could get:

  • a mentor to help you develop your business idea and write a business plan
  • ongoing support from a mentor in the early months of trading

How it works

  • A specialist will assess your business idea and if it has potential you’ll be signed up to the scheme, get financial support and a business mentor.
  • You can’t get the financial support if your business plan isn’t approved.

More information about the scheme is available from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Start Up Loans Company

The Start up Loans Company is a government funded scheme available to businesses yet to start, or those that have been trading for up to 12 months.  The scheme provides free business planning prior to the loan being advanced and from then access to a mentor, free training and business offers.  The average loan size is £6,000 but the final loan size is dependent upon your business plan and you are required to pay it back within 1-5 years at an annual interest rate of 6%.

This national scheme operates through a network of delivery partners that locally include:

Financial support for young people

  • The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme provides loans up to £4,000 for a sole trader and up to £5,000 for a partnership new business plus mentoring.  Applicants should also be unemployed (or working 16 hours or less per week) and unable to obtain all their start-up funding from alternative sources.

Financial support for ex-services personnel

  • X-Forces offer loan funding and mentoring to pre-starts and start-ups.

Financial support for high growth pre-starts and start-ups

Finance South East is a not-for-profit organisation that works with private and public sector partners to deliver investment support and access to debt and equity funding for ambitious pre-start, start-up, early growth and established SME businesses operating in the south east region.  Its funds include:

  • Seed Fund invests by way of an equity instrument into companies with strong intellectual property or market differentiation that can demonstrate high growth potential. It is mainly focused on digital media, advanced manufacturing, clean technology and spin-out companies from South East universities.  Between £100,000 and £250,000 of funding is available on a matched basis.
  • Business Angel Co-Investment Loan Scheme flexible loan of between £50,000 and £125,000 to unlock business angel investment in early stage businesses that are close to revenue or have early customer engagement and revenue. The facility is provided on the basis of a minimum 60% business angel investment to 40% co-investment loan split of the total funding.

Other useful links

Some of these may require registration to access

  • Business-finance-support-finder is a government site bringing together information on government grant, publicly-backed finance and loans, business support eg mentoring, consultancy, and funding for small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups.
  • provides information on all the latest European grants, UK Government grants and other sources of funding to help start and grow your business.
  • Better Business Finance provides impartial information and support to business customers looking to raise finance.  It was set up by Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds and Santander; and is managed by the British Bankers’ Association in collaboration with its business and finance partners.  Funding searches can be undertaken according to geographic location, industry, amount of finance, or life stage of the business.
  • Finding Finance is the Community Development Finance Institution website. CDFIs are non-profit organisations that lend money to individuals, businesses, social enterprises and charities who can use the money to help and develop their local community.
  • UK Business Angels Association is the national trade association representing angel and early stage investment in the UK.  Its website includes background information on angel investment and a fund directory.
  • The Business Finance Guide (see Resources section for the guide) is provided by the Institute of Chartered Accountants and includes overviews of sources of available finance and tools to help businesses consider their options.

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