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At Crunch we want to give small businesses all the help we can, to see as many people thrive in self-employment as possible. 

That’s why our company was created. And there’s no doubt that the UK is one of the best environments for SMEs and startups with big ambitions to prosper.

But as economic and market conditions change so frequently, especially as they are in the current climate (no pun intended), running a business can become extremely difficult even for the most wise and experienced business owners.

As you may be aware, there are currently some significant socio-political events and wider-scale societal shifts occurring around the globe. 

The US election drama, the AI revolution, the cost-of-living crisis as result of Covid restrictions and the war in the Ukraine, and the climate change movement are all having a collective impact on the UK economy. 

As we can see manifested as high interest rates, inflation and the winter fuel crisis. Which will, in turn, inevitably affect spending and thus UK businesses. So right now, they need all the help they can get.

Which brings on to the topic of Sustainability Grants and Loans for UK Businesses - time for some sustainable positivity.

Net-Zero can boost your net-profit

Another large social shift, particularly prominent in the UK, is the  government’s push towards ‘Net-Zero’. Which is their target of cutting carbon emissions to zero by the year 2050.

To achieve this goal many new types of commercial and legal regulations, commerce initiatives, and social campaigns are being introduced.

Like the much debated ‘ULEZ’ scheme for example, that aims to reduce emissions and create clean air in urban areas. 

Other key areas of the sustainability movement receiving intense attention from the Government include green supply chains, eco-friendly manufacturing and design, and ethical workplace practices.

Whichever side of the eco-powered electric fence you sit on on green issues, (we don’t recommend doing that btw) one thing’s for sure, the sustainability drive is going to be sustained. Provided there are enough charging stations en route.

And the good news is that Britain offers some generous support measures to help businesses adapt. In the form of £5 billion worth of funding, available as grants, loans and incentives.

As numerous recent studies like this one by Bain & Company and EcoVadis show, there are strong links between sustainability strategies and profitability. 

So the opportunity is clear; just reach the replanted olive-branch and get funding that could help grow your business. 

Let’s take a look at exactly what’s on offer.

Environmental Grants: Turn Green Ambitions into Reality

Alright, now let's dive into the nitty-gritty details of environmental grants that are up for grabs in the UK. These are tailored to help your business turn eco-friendly aspirations into actionable plans. Remember, every bit of support counts, especially when you're aiming to make your business more sustainable without breaking the bank. 

Workplace Charging Scheme

  • Amount: Up to 75% of the total costs, capped at £350 per socket (up to 40 sockets across all sites per applicant)
  • Application Criteria: Open to businesses, charities, and public sector organisations that meet applicant and site eligibility criteria.
  • Description: The Workplace Charging Scheme is a voucher-based initiative designed to offset the upfront costs associated with the purchase and installation of electric vehicle chargepoints. It aims to encourage businesses to provide charging solutions for staff, fleets, guests, or visitors. The grant covers up to 75% of the total costs (inclusive of VAT), with a maximum cap of £350 per socket and a limit of 40 sockets per applicant across multiple sites.

Industrial Energy Transformation Fund 

  • Amount: Up to £185 million (total budget) in Phase 3  
  • Application Criteria: Businesses with high energy consumption aiming to reduce their carbon footprint through energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies.
  • Description: Managed by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the IETF is geared towards businesses looking to lower both their energy bills and carbon emissions. Initially announced with £315 million in the 2018 Budget, the fund is releasing a new Phase 3 with £185 million available from early 2024.  

This grant could be a game-changer for businesses looking to make significant strides in sustainability and energy efficiency.

Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS)

  • Amount: Unit discount of up to £6.97/MWh for gas and up to £19.61/MWh for electricity
  • Application Criteria: Available for anyone on a non-domestic contract, including businesses, voluntary sector organisations, and public sector bodies like schools and hospitals.
  • Description: Initiated to succeed the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, the EBDS comes into effect from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024. It provides automatic unit discounts for eligible non-domestic energy users. The scheme encompasses a variety of energy contract types, from fixed price contracts to variable ‘Day Ahead Index’ tariffs in Northern Ireland. 

This is really just a snapshot. There’s so many others, tailored to various aspects of business sustainability. Such as;

And many more. All of these grants are offered UK wide. But availability differs between various regions, so check with your local council or Chamber of Commerce.

Green Loans: Fuel Your Business Sustainably

You've checked out the grants, but what if your business needs something a little more flexible? That's where green loans come into play. Whether you're kickstarting a green initiative or scaling an existing one, these loans can provide the financial muscle you need. Here are some green loans you should consider:

The Co-operative Bank's Renewable Energy Funding Scheme provides loans from £25,020 to £10 million for UK-based businesses and charities to invest in eco-friendly projects like energy-efficient premises, boilers, and solar panels. Eligibility requires being 18 or older, a UK resident, and holding a Co-operative Bank business account. Variable interest rates and fees apply.

The Barclays Green Loan offers up to £5 million for SMEs in line with the European Commission's criteria to fund sustainable green projects. Options for variable or fixed interest rates are available, along with various fees. The loan can be used for solar and wind energy projects, EPC enhancements, and upgrading to eco-friendly machinery. Repayment terms range from 1 to 20 years.

The HSBC UK Green SME Fund offers a £500 million pool to assist small businesses transition to a greener operation. Available to companies with a turnover under £25 million, the fund provides loans starting at £1,000 and offers 1% cashback to incentivize sustainable investments.

The NatWest Green Loan aims to help businesses meet their sustainability goals by funding a range of eco-friendly projects such as solar panels, electric vehicles, and heat pumps. The list of eligible activities is subject to ongoing updates and review.

So, whether it's about adopting energy-efficient tech or embarking on a renewable energy journey, these loans can serve as the financial propellant for your green transition. Do your homework, make sure you tick all the criteria boxes, and take that sustainable step forward. (*Green footprints only, please.*)

ESG Incentive

If you need further persuasion to join the green revolution, then you should learn about the ESG initiative. Implementing an ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategy demonstrates your commitment to environmental and social responsibility, and that your business is open and reliable. 

Environmental factors look at a firm's eco-friendly practices, like climate change policies. Social elements assess relations with staff, vendors, clients, and local communities. Governance focuses on leadership, compensation, audits, and shareholder rights.

Although ESG frameworks aren't obligatory for SMEs, they can still provide numerous advantages. 

How does a 9% increase in profitability sound? Well that’s the *average* boost to profits companies that sign up to ESG see, according to this Moor Global commissioned study.

And as reported by the CBI (the Confederation of British Industry), about 66% of investors consider ESG elements when deciding to invest in a business. A claim affirmed by PwC’s Global Investor Survey, which found that 79% of investors say ESG risks are important when deciding to fund.

Even though 90% of corporate executives believe that ESG is crucial, 40% of companies have not yet implemented a sustainability strategy. It would appear that they’re missing out. This could be an opportunity for your company to overtake competitors in this area. 

Seizing the Green Opportunity

Within these emerging environmental concerns and social shifts UK SMEs have a golden opportunity to adapt and thrive. 

With £5 billion in funding on the table, businesses can make impactful green transitions that don't just save the planet but also boost profitability—an average of 9%, to be precise. The stakes are high, as nearly half of investors would walk away from businesses that don't commit to sustainability. At Crunch, we believe in empowering SMEs to take control of their destiny while doing good for the planet. Grants, loans, and ESG incentives are not just buzzwords; they are real avenues for growth and stability. 

Money might not yet grow on trees, but now it seems planting trees as part might help grow your businesses.

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James Waller
Content Specialist
Updated on
November 7, 2023

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