Government grants are available for a wide variety of purposes for both businesses and individuals. The most popular Government grants include Business grants, new boiler grants and home insulation grants. With over £2 billion in grants and over five thousand funding schemes available each year there is something for everyone. Grants can be applied for from the UK government, the European Union, local councils and charities.
The advantages of a government grant include the fact that you will not have to pay interest on the money and you never have to pay it back. You also don’t not have to give up any control in your enterprise as you would if you were raising equity finance. There are a few disadvantages; firstly, there is a lot of competition for most grants and you will be required to show that your need is greater than others. You are often, but not always, expected to contribute your own finances up to an equal amount of the grant. Also, you will have to navigate through the plethora of grant information and criteria to find a grant that is available for your specific project and then get involved in what can be a very time-consuming and intensive application process.
To receive grant funding, the interested parties have to submit an application setting out the specific reasons why they should receive money from that particular available grant resource. It is necessary to carry out detailed and thorough research to make sure that all of the grant criteria are met before applying if you wish to ensure a successful application. There are several key aspects that must be taken into consideration.
Purpose of the Government Grant – Grants are normally only available for very specific purposes; for example, investment in plant and machinery or training for staff in particular key areas such as technology. It is very unusual for a grant to be made available for unknown or unspecified costs or investments.
Grants for Specific Projects – Often grant funding is related directly to a single specific project rather than on-going regular business. This may be relocation, the development of a new product or the investigation of a new market for export. This specific project plan needs to be exactly defined, with clear deliverables. A well written and structured business plan will be an important part of the proposal.
Business Type –The majority of UK business grants are aimed at limited companies and partnerships, and sole traders. The status of your business will go a long way towards determining what funding you can apply for.
Size of Business – Many The government is always particular interested in supporting the development of SMEs (small and medium sized businesses), meaning those with under 250 employees and a turnover and balance sheet within prescribed limits.
Industry type – Some grant schemes are available only for the assistance of specific industry sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing or technology.
Business Location – Many funding schemes are national but some are geographically targeted at local or regional level. Sometimes, extra assistance is available in the form of a grant to businesses aiming to improve areas of social deprivation.
Match funding – As mentioned above, it is often the case that the business applying for the funding must add its own financial resources to the application, sometimes as much as 50% or even higher of the amount being sought.
Filling out a grant application form is a skill in itself. A great deal of information is normally required. Always read the grant application guidelines thoroughly and take careful note of all the material requested as supporting documentation. Make sure you are aware of any deadlines for submissions. A budget is usually necessary for your proposal and a budget planner will normally be provided with the application.
You will also need to supply a statement which narrates your own professional career and include your reasons for needing the grant. This is a very important part of the process and can make the difference between getting your grant and not getting it. There are several online sources that can assist you with this essential proposal statement.
There is a lot more to learn about government grants as this information barely scratches the surface. But hopefully it has given you a good start and pointed you in the right direction.