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Finance is available if you know where to look

Bobby Lane is a partner at accountancy firm Shelley Stock Hutter.

Bobby Lane

Bobby Lane

There was a lot of hot air from political leaders during the party conferences about how they would support the lending to and growth of small- and medium-sized businesses - but very little substance.

All parties know they have to do something, but seem to struggle to come up with innovative and concrete new schemes.

To give them their due, there are already some great government-led funding initiatives available. Yet, few fashion businesses are taking advantage, largely because they are unaware of them or the information available is too confusing.

If you have been trading for less than 12 months, for example, you can access up to £10,000 of funding through the Start Up Loans scheme. You are also matched with a business mentor free of charge.

For businesses needing a larger amount, the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme is one to consider. The government guarantees 75% of the loan, with the bank taking the other 25% of the risk. Your business must be UK-based, have a turnover of less than £4m and be seeking finance of between £1,000 and £1m. You must repay the loan within three months to 10 years.

If you are looking for investors, there is a great initiative called the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. Investors in your business will receive an initial 50% income tax relief on up to £100,000 (the company can raise £150,000), plus the sale of the shares in the future could be tax free.

For larger investments, the Enterprise Investment Scheme works in a similar way, but the initial income tax relief is 30%.

There is a multitude of other ways your business can get its next injection of finance, from traditional bank loans to asset-based lending or using a crowd-funding platform where investors can pledge small amounts of money in the business, usually in return for an equity stake.

Whichever party is elected next year, they must do more to educate businesses on what options are available and how to access them.

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