Business Grants: A Postcode Lottery?

3 months ago
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When we recently compiled our list of start up grants and funding in the UK, one thing stood out for us – inconsistency. In some local areas we were able to find lots of options. In others, there didn’t appear to be anywhere near as many. In some, we were unable to find any at all. But ours was a pretty informal list with no set in stone figures. In other words, our feeling that business grants were a bit of a postcode lottery wasn’t based on anything concrete.

But research released recently by the UK Domain confirms that business funding is indeed something of a postcode lottery.

Using information obtained through Freedom of Information requests, The UK Domain found that:

0 %
of Metropolitan Districts offer grants to startups and small businesses
0 %
of London Boroughs offer no grants at all
£ 0 m
awarded by Bradford Council in capital grants and rate rebates since 2012

Yorkshire Leads the Way

So yes, it absolutely is a postcode lottery and it’s one that the small businesses of Yorkshire are winning.

It stands to reason, I suppose. In areas that businesses flock to, there’s less need to incentivise businesses. But in areas of the UK that are struggling economically or struggle in general to attract businesses, incentives can really boost the local economy by bringing more small businesses to the area.

The leading Metropolitan Districts in the UK are in Yorkshire. Take Bradford, for example, which has invested almost £12 million in business capital grants and rate rebates since 2012. This is an area close to Leeds and almost certainly competing with Leeds in order to attract businesses.

Doncaster Borough Council has invested £1.8 million in grants since 2014 to support in improving the external elements of premises. Similarly, Wakefield City Council awards grants of up £10,000 for companies looking to occupy vacant units. What an incentive for a start up.

The View Across the Country

33 Metropolitan Districts responded to the UK Domain’s request for data under the Freedom of Information Act. Here’s how they fared in terms of whether they offered grants or not:

uk business grant statistics

In my personal experience, running a business in Oldham, the boroughs outside of big cities trying to attract small businesses to relocate out of the centres and into the smaller boroughs are offering more incentives. The data backs this up. Oldham is just 6 miles from Manchester City Centre, yet in the city there is no funding for start up grants. In Oldham, Tameside, and Trafford, all incredibly nearby, grants are available.

It’s a similar story with Leeds and Bradford, while Birmingham bucks the trend.

What About London Boroughs?

Business grant funding might be one area in which London businesses are not winning. With so many businesses vying to setup in the nation’s capital, there is, arguably, less need to incentivise startups. But just 23% of London Boroughs have any allocation of funds for business grants.

30 London Boroughs replied to the request for information and just 7 offer any sort of grant or rebate to small businesses. So it’s hard luck for those starting up in the capital unless they happen to be starting up in Haringey, Islington, Camden, Westminster, Southwark, Ealing or Merton.

London business grant statistics

Business Grant Types

Very much in keeping with our own findings when compiling our list, the UK Domain found many councils were offering grants in the form of rate reductions. Other popular forms of funding allocation centre around green incentives and regeneration incentives.

It’s always worth checking with your local council to find out what incentives they have for startups or small businesses in your area.

Notes

The UK Domain sent Freedom of Information requests to 36 Metropolitan Districts and 32 London Boroughs between October and November 2019 to find what business grants are available for UK start-ups and small businesses.

The full research can be found here https://www.theukdomain.uk/businesss-grants-uk/

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