Finance & funding

Getting the right type of finance for your business is essential. There are many different types available including loans, grants and investment - each of them designed to meet different needs.

Working capital


The Council is investing £50,000 in local businesses via MarketInvoice, a funding platform that allows firms to release funds from outstanding invoices. Local businesses looking to benefit can apply on the MarketInvoice website and, if approved, can receive funds in as little as 24 hours. Unlike traditional invoice factoring, the service is completely flexible, so companies are able to upload as many – or as few – invoices as they choose, with no contract or tie-ins. The Council’s funds will only be available for businesses based in the district. Costs are typically between one and three per cent of the value of the invoice. For more information please visit the:

Loans for businesses

Start-up Loan Scheme

The Start-up Loan Scheme is a Government funded initiative that provides a business loan together with a mentor for people starting up a new business. 

For more information please visit the:

Funding Circle

Funding Circle is an online peer-to-business lending platform connecting businesses and investors, where businesses get fast business loans and investors earn returns on their investments. Funding Circle has funded over £330m in business loans so far and has created an estimated 16,500 jobs across the country. Furthermore, the UK Government has lent £60 million through Funding Circle during the past two years.

For more information please visit the:

Enterprise Finance Guarantee

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee is a Government loan guarantee scheme. The loans are available from ordinary commercial banks and can be up to £1 million, repayable over a period of up to 10 years. The scheme is open to viable businesses with an annual turnover of up to £25m. Contact your bank for further details.

Grants to help businesses

OxLEP Elevate Grant

OxLEP has two funds for Oxfordshire SMEs in its Elevate programme, one for start-ups and the other for growing businesses.

The grants are to fund activities and projects which will ultimately lead to business growth and job creation in Oxfordshire.  For further information please see:

Innovation funding

Innovate UK is the Government's innovation agency and it distributes grants to help businesses cover the cost of R&D activity.  The grants tend to be competitions focussed on specific technologies which are announced at very regular intervals.  Innovate UK also runs "open" competitions which are not sector specific. It is worth checking Innovate UK's website regularly for recent funding announcements.

For more information please visit the:

Apprenticeship grant for employers of 16 to 24 year olds

The National Apprenticeship Service provides £1,500 grants to small and medium sized employers to take on new apprentices between 16 and 24 years old. The £1,500 is in addition to the training costs of the Apprenticeship framework which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24. For more information please visit the:

Other grants

We subscribe to Grants Online Local, a free, user-friendly service to help organisations identify funding sources available for specific projects. You will need to register the first time you use the site. To search for grants, please visit the:


Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network

The Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION) was established in 1995 as one of the UK's first business angel networks. Today, it ranks among the most successful in Europe. OION links investors to companies with high growth potential who are seeking business development funds from £50,000 to over £1m. For more information please visit the:

Oxford Early investments

Oxford Early Investments (OEI) is a business angel network that focuses on innovative companies at the very early stages of technical and commercial development. These companies are often building on an initial proof of concept, and require investment capital of between £20,000 and £150,000 to develop their product. This stage of company growth is often the most difficult to fund. For more information please visit the:

The Thames Valley Investment Network

The Thames Valley Investment Network (TVIN) links investors to companies with high growth potential who are looking for funding from £50,000 to £500,000. For more information please visit the:

British Business Angels Association 

The British Business Angels Association (BBAA) is the national trade association dedicated to promoting angel investing and supporting early stage investment in the UK. The BBAA now represents almost 100 organisations including the vast majority of business angel networks across the UK and over 20 early stage venture capital funds. For more information please visit the:

The FSE Group

Finance South East help growth businesses achieve their potential through direct investment from its £33.6m funds under management, together with a range of professional support and advice. It provides an integrated, independent and specialist offering which prepares companies for investment and high growth. For more information please visit the:

Dealing with business debt

Problems paying tax bills

HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) Business Payment Support Service is there to help businesses that are aware they may not be able to make a payment due in full before the payment deadline. For more information please visit the:

Organisations offering free advice on debt problems

For free, confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems, please visit the:

For free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities and is experienced in helping with personal debt problems, please visit the:

Further information on business finance

For further information and finance schemes that may not be listed here, please visit the:

Starting and running a successful business can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. It can also be one of the most daunting. However, statistics show businesses that take advice during the start up phase are more likely to be successful.

If you are not sure where to start, then email our Business Development Team or call 01993 861485 and we will point you in the right direction.

Free Startup Guides

A series of free guides covering a range of key business topics is available from the Start Up Loans Company. They’re packed full of practical tips, examples and ‘how-to’ information.  Advice ranges from how to conduct market research, analysing strengths and weaknesses and optimising your website. To download the guides, please visit:

Creating a business

When you start a business you must choose a structure. Most businesses in the UK are:

  • sole traders
  • limited companies or
  • partnerships.

If you are a sole trader you need to register as ‘self-employed’ - this means that you are working for yourself, not for someone else. For more information on the different structures and how to set them up see the Government website:

Help available for starting your business

Business plan

Having a written business plan will help you secure finance as well as help you clarify your business idea, spot potential problems, set out your goals and measure your progress. It is a document that describes your business covering objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.

For high quality, free advice for new businesses (including help with business planning) visit:

Enterprise Nation is the UK's most active small business community.  Its online portal allows small businesses to connect with advisers, network with like-minded entrepreneurs and access a huge range of resources.

For detailed information about how to write a business plan see the:

Courses and workshops

OxLEP runs a regular series of free workshops covering important topics for new businesses including business planning, marketing and managing cashflow.  For more information and a schedule of forthcoming workshops, please see:

Young people aged 18-30 can get help from the Prince's Trust to work out if their business ideas are viable, and decide whether self-employment is right for them.  The programme then offers mentoring support and, for those that really need it, financial support to start a business.


Getting the right type of finance for your business is essential. There are several different ways of financing a business including loans, investment and occasionally grants. For more information see:

Business premises

Working from home

Many people run their business from home when they start up as it is convenient and saves the extra cost of renting commercial premises, for more information see:

Commercial premises

In many instances it is either not convenient or not possible to run the business from home. The Commercial property page includes a regular commercial property register as well as details of business centres and serviced offices.

If you operate from commercial premises you will almost certainly need to register for business rates unless the landlord is paying them as set out in the terms of the lease. For further information, including the possible reliefs available, see:

Food business

All premises that prepare, serve or sell food or drink must register regardless of whether or not the premises operate commercially. Registration is free of charge and can either be done online or by completing and returning a form. Failure to register is an offence. For further information see:


Many businesses need a license or permit of some kind. The Government run a Licence finder tool which acts as a guide. For further local advice see:

Further information about starting a business 

West Oxfordshire District Council
New Yatt Road
OX28 1PB