Apply for UK sustainability grants

In the current climate crisis, it’s important for both individuals and businesses to do their bit to protect the world we live in. So it’s perhaps no wonder that many small businesses are looking for ways to become more sustainable.

Find our what sustainability grants are the different types of green funding that could be available to your business.

What is a sustainability grant?

A sustainability grant is simply a business grant that is awarded to make your business more sustainable and environmentally responsible. Most businesses are focusing their attention on sustainability as tackling the climate crisis and working towards a net zero economy by 2050 becomes increasingly important.

A grant is a sum of money that is given to a business, usually by the government, local authorities or a private organisation. Although the grant does not need to be repaid, there are often restrictions on how you can use the money and many also require a level of matched funding for the project. This means that if you are given £10,000 for example, you will also need to invest £10,000.

Are sustainability grants and green grants the same thing?

Yes, sustainability grants and green grants are the same thing – they both award a sum of money to a business to help it operate in an environmentally-friendly way. This could be by installing energy efficiency measures in the business premises, for example.

Note, however, that green grants are not the same as green loans. Green loans are also available to businesses looking to finance sustainable projects, but as they are loans, the amount borrowed must be repaid with interest. However, green loan interest rates can be competitive and there are often fewer restrictions on how you can use the money compared to grants.

What green grants are available in the UK?

There are several different green grants available in the UK. Which option is right for you will depend on where your business is located and the sector in which your business operates. It’s important to compare your options carefully and check you meet the eligibility criteria. It can be worth seeking independent advice to help you decide. 

Some currently available green grants in the UK include :

Swansea council’s Carbon Reduction Grant has been created with the objective of enabling businesses to work towards net zero carbon. The grant can fund costs including renewable energy generation, energy conservation measures and changes to manufacturing processes which result in carbon reduction; applicants must be able to calculate their forecasted carbon savings.

The maximum grant available is £10,000 and will require applicants to provide 50% of costs in match funding.  All applicants will be required to provide a business plan/summary and 12 month cash flow forecast.

Green Business Grants, BANES and South Glos: this grant is designed to help SMEs purchase and install new products and equipment that will help reduce business greenhouse gas emissions, cut utility costs and improve energy efficiency. Applications must help the business to achieve a measurable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to your current baseline emissions. These grant applications must be supported by an independent carbon assessment of your business.

The Green New Deal Fund seeks to support the low carbon sector in Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside by providing flexible and competitive finance to enable, accelerate or enhance viable low carbon projects. GNDF aims to catalyse investment in green growth, stimulate innovation, create green jobs and enable sector and supply chain growth in the areas of decentralised energy, heat decarbonisation, energy efficiency, small scale renewable energy generation, local energy systems, low carbon transport and natural capital.

The Business Sustainability Grant (‘Green Growth’) from West Lindsey District Council is specifically intended for businesses seeking to implement greener solutions aimed at reducing their carbon footprint and improving their energy efficiencies. Green Growth business grants can be used for both capital investment (e.g. LED lighting, renewable energy systems, low carbon measures and energy efficient machinery) and revenue projects (e.g. business consultancy services, environmental audits, carbon surveys/feasibility studies). Applicant businesses will be required to provide match funding at 30% of project costs, and the max. grant value is £15k.

Energy Efficient Grants East Sussex: SMEs in East Sussex may be able to apply for a grant of between £200 and £1,000 to cover a maximum 40% of the total value of their energy efficiency project through the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC. To qualify, you must have fewer than 250 full time staff, a turnover of less than £44 million and premises in East Sussex.

Green Port Hull: this grant is available to SMEs in all areas of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire, provided they are in the green tech, low carbon and renewable energy sectors. Grants start from £10,000 and can help you launch a new business or upgrade an existing one with innovative technologies. 

The Green Recovery voucher scheme can help SMEs in Kent take advantage of environmental advice and services. Businesses in Kent can apply for a voucher of up to £1,500 to implement an environmental project to help improve business sustainability. This could be done through the installation of energy efficiency measures or the development of sustainable transport solutions, for example. 

Carbon Reduction Grant Manchester: if you’re an SME in Greater Manchester, you might be eligible for an energy efficiency grant of between £1,000 and £12,500 to help with up to 50% of the costs of your energy efficiency improvements. The grants are available on a first-come first-served basis and can be put towards the cost of a new LED lighting system for your premises, heating equipment upgrades, replacement drives or motors and process efficiency investments. 

Conventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme: this program offers eligible businesses grants of between £1,000 and £50,000 to fund up to 40% of the cost of installing energy efficiency measures. This could be installing LED lighting, upgrading heating systems or installing renewable technologies. To qualify, your business must operate in Coventry and Warwickshire, employ fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover of less than €50 million. 

The Business Energy Saving Team is a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local councils. It aims to reduce energy use and costs in SMEs based in Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland. The programme can provide your business with a fully-funded energy efficiency audit designed to help you identify ways that you can save energy in your day-to-day business operations. This will help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

How do I decide which green grant is right for my business?

Given there are so many different sustainability grants available, it can be hard to know which one is best for your business. But an easy way to narrow it down is to search for grants specific to your area – many grants are only available to businesses in certain regions, which means there will be a number you simply won’t qualify for.

Other eligibility criteria to check include limits on the size of the business, whether you need to have been trading for a certain length of time and whether there are any limits on annual turnover.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, then consider which grant best meets your business objectives. Check exactly what you can and can’t use the grant for to be sure it will work for you. Also check how much the grant will be for and whether you will be required to match funds – and whether this is possible.

How do I apply?

When you’re ready to apply for a sustainability grant, you should be able to do so via the grant provider’s website. 

You will often need to download an expression of interest form first and fill in details about your business, including your business address, business description and number of employees. 

Alternatively, you might need to email or phone the grant provider to discuss your eligibility and next steps. Details should be available on the grant provider’s website. 

Once you’re ready to make your full application, it’s important to be able to explain how the grant will help your business achieve its goals and objectives. If you’re being asked to match the funding, make sure you have the funds available.

Get started with Swoop

The team at Swoop can provide additional support when it comes to finding the right sustainable grant for your business and how to apply.

By registering with Swoop and entering your company information in the ‘grant funding’ section of your Swoop account, you’ll be able to view all the available grants that might be right for you. Alongside sustainability and green grants, you’ll find Innovate UK’s smart grants as well as other grants for innovation; we can even help you get a grant advance to speed up your funding, should your grant application be successful. Once you’ve made your decision, you will then be sent through to the application page for the relevant grant provider and you can make your application.

Written by

Rachel Wait

Rachel has been writing about finance and consumer affairs for over a decade, helping people to get to grips with their finances and cut through the jargon. She's written for a range of websites and national newspapers including MoneySuperMarket, Money to the Masses, Forbes UK, and Mail on Sunday. Rachel has covered almost every financial topic, from car insurance and credit cards, to business bank accounts and mortgages.

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