Access to finance

As a global centre for banking and finance, the UK offers a broad range of public and private funding options to companies in all sectors. Whether you're a startup or well established, there are numerous routes to raising capital. Sources of finance to fund your expansion will fall into one of two main categories: debt or equity.

Debt financing

This common form of business financing involves borrowing money or an asset and paying it (or its value) back with interest.
Debt finance products include:

  • loans
  • overdrafts and lines of credit
  • leasing and hire purchase of assets

Where to find out more

The British Business Bank is a state-owned economic development bank that helps smaller businesses find the right finance. See their guide to the different types and sources of debt financing.

Find a full list of support schemes for UK businesses using the GOV.UK tool Finance and support for your business.

Equity financing

This is when you raise money by selling shares in your business to an investor or a fund, in return for finance. Equity financing is typically sought by businesses looking to grow, and securing it is an involved process usually taking several months.

This type of financing often comes with technical and managerial support, and investors will often take a close interest in how your business is run.

There are many different types of equity financing, and they vary according to the level of investment, the share of the business the investor requires, the source of the investor's funds and whether they're more suited to early-stage or established businesses.

Following are three common examples of equity finance products.

Venture capital

This involves funding from an investment company, corporation or investment fund. Both the sum invested and the stake in the emerging business will be relatively high.

Angel investment

Usually from individuals investing a relatively small amount of their own money in a startup business that interests them.

Equity crowdfunding

A larger group of investors invest much smaller amounts of money, through a regulated online platform.

Where to find out more

The British Business Bank has detailed guides on the different types and stages of equity financing.

There are 3 government schemes designed to encourage more venture capital investment into businesses, by offering tax reliefs to investors. Your business must meet certain conditions in order to access investment via these schemes. Find out more about the venture capital schemes on GOV.UK.

You can also find equity-based search results in the GOV.UK tool Finance and support for your business.

Finance based on where you're expanding to

You may be able to access debt finance or equity finance in particular nations or regions of the UK, via development funds and banks. They also offer other kinds of funding and support. Find out more from the websites of:

Scottish National Investment Bank, which invests in companies that address the challenges of the future such as climate change, ageing population and economic inclusion.

Development Bank for Wales, which offers flexible business finance for companies through loans or equity, secured and unsecured.

Invest Northern Ireland, which offers a number of funds to support small and medium sized companies, across both debt and equity markets.

Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, which supports smaller businesses across the North of England

Midlands Engine Investment Fund, which provides investment to boost small and medium sized growth in the English West, East and South Midlands.

Other types of funding and support

Securing finance is not the only way to help raise capital to grow your business – the UK also offers incentives, tax reliefs and grants.

Read our guide to Incentives, funding and support.

Get financial advice from UK experts – find their details in the Investment Support Directory.

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