From government grants to tax breaks. How and why do governments help finance SMEs?

It can be pretty emotional running your own business and it can feel really overwhelming at times. That being said, if you’re doing something that you love, and you’ve gotten good at it, it can be the most rewarding job on earth.

The long hours, the setbacks, it’s all one big learning curve and it can take some serious grinding to really establish yourself. When times are tough or you could just do with a little help or advice, how could the good old government lend a hand?

You might not be aware, but actually, it’s in the interests of the government to assist SMEs. If you’re unable to raise any finance, they recognise that you’ll be missing out on excellent investment opportunities and as a result of this, the wealth of the nation is lower than it could have been. Not only that; because SMEs are often innovative and able to respond quickly to the dynamic business environment, they’re certainly aware of your massive potential. As you support employment too, it’s clear to see that you definitely have a lot more people rooting for you than you might have assumed.

How do governments help finance SMEs?

So, how could the government help?

They could:

  • Provide advice: The government offers a number of different advice services for SMEs to take advantage of. Whether you’re thinking of setting up, or you’re more established, government websites like this one should be able to point you in the right direction. A plethora of advice is offered, from the research phase right through to securing funding, with dedicated support hotlines across the UK.
  • Provide government grants: There are numerous options when it comes to securing government grants. They are offered on such a niche basis that it’s difficult to offer generalised advice, however; typically, they’re going to be offered for things such as research and development projects in which the government may be interested. Once you find the right grant, the process itself is reportedly straightforward enough. The real difficulty is in locating something appropriate that you’re likely to be eligible for and finding time to do the paperwork.
  • Provide tax breaks: There are a number of tax breaks that are offered that you may be interested in hearing more about, upwards of ten in fact. Some of the more prominent ones are:

-The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which aims to encourage investment in smaller or newer companies through risk-reduction for investors

-Research and Development Tax Credits, allowing you to claim up to a 225% tax relief on R&D spending

-Employment and National Insurance, allowing you to claim back National Insurance contributions paid for employees by up to £2000

  • Provide tailored equity investment options: They might not offer the funds themselves, however, the government do have excellent online tools that allow you to input your specific information and it’ll return you a number of different funding options for your business that otherwise may be difficult to find under your own steam. One of the said tools can be found here.
  • Provide tailored loan guarantor options: Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the government will guarantee your loan themselves; however, it’s possible to find loan guarantors through the same tool that’s described above.

So, that’s a brief summary of what the government can do to help you out. It often isn’t crystal clear what’s actually out there and the bureaucratic nature of it all can make things seem off-putting, especially as a number of government systems are under constant modernisation to bring them in line with the private sector.

That being said, the information collaborated in the suggested sources certainly can point you in the right direction, however, a lot of it is down to you.

If you’re already at the stage of preparing your application for finance, it might be a good idea to check your business credit score first to gauge your chances of having your application approved and to ensure that your business is seen in the best possible light with the lenders.

To find out how we can help you to understand your business credit profile, and to monitor it too, please click here.

Sources: accaglobal.com ; gov.uk ; greatbusiness.gov.uk

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