According to research from j4b.co.uk, a web-based grant search service, 93% of small and medium-sized companies are not taking advantage of available grants, instead relying on bank overdrafts, loans or family savings.
The cash is part of a potential multi-million pound pot designed to help out Britain’s 3.7 million companies.
But many companies are missing out on this source of finance through a mix of ignorance, confusion and complexity.
j4b sees the accountancy profession playing an important role in advising clients on finding and applying for possible grants.
j4b’s managing director Nick Jaspan said: ‘Half of the battle is finding out what is available.’
The majority of the grants stem from either central government or the European Union, but are often administered locally, leading to fragmented information.
The 5,000 capital, or ‘hard cash’, grants that can be found on j4b’s site range from regional selective grants that can run to several million pounds to small, localised grants, such as the unusual Shetland ram scheme.
Supported by Patricia Hewitt MP, the DTI’s small-business minister, j4b is currently in talks with at least one Big Five accountancy firm to allow it to pass on the information to its clients.
But the need for such a site was seen as a tacit criticism of central and local government.
While supporting the scheme, Ian Campbell, director-general of the Institute of Export, said: ‘The whole area of grants for business is one of the great black holes as far as many businesses are concerned.
‘The money is there, whether from UK government funds, regional development sources or, especially, from the cavernous coffers of Brussels. Yet very few people know how to access it.’
Information on available grants is currently issued in an unco-ordinated and expensive way.
Some grant distribution bodies spend up to 2.5% of their total funding on advertising and promotion.
In some cases, their promotional expenditure is more than £1m a year.
For further information on grants available in your area, click on www.j4b.co.uk
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