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Business Support & Funding

Below are updates and information on business support available and funding links.


If you do have any further questions please email: – however, all info needed should be provided on the relevant links. If you do apply for any funding it might be useful to let us know in case a collaboration in the town will enable your project to be more successful.



  • GROWING YOUR BUSINESS INTERNATIONALLY Thurs 15th July 2021 10.30am-11.30am. Free to attend. Join Lucy Hall – Facebook Lead Trainer and #Shemeansbusiness Trainer, founder of Digital Women and SocialDay. Learn how to identify strategies to grow your business internationally; understand the Facebook tools available to reach international audiences and more.


  • VIRTUAL BUSINESS NETWORKING / KENT INVICTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Tues 13th July 2021 10.30am-12pm. Free to attend. This week’s guest speaker will be Jonathan Goodwin from Warp Design. 



Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO of Maybe*, the tech company that has developed Local Rewards, said: “Our research revealed that 66% of shoppers look online for inspiration.
“The Local Rewards guides group all social media content by location to encourage people to browse their local businesses, and when they reopen they will be rewarded for their local spend. Our aim is to enable shoppers to have a better shopping experience, discover new places and provide businesses with the tools to reward their customers.

“High Streets need infrastructure that until now has only been available for online businesses. They need to communicate with shoppers in real-time and be able to showcase what’s available.
“In order to compete, high street businesses need to up their digital game, promote their physical stores and collaborate. Our platforms help them collectively to do that.”  

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  • 30.03.21 MAYBE PLATFORM – LOCAL REWARDS SHOPPING GUIDE NOW LIVE FOR BUSINESSESS AND RESIDENTS, PLUS FREE SUPPORT FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES  A new virtual shopping guide that showcases live content from Ashford and Tenterden businesses is now live. It enables shoppers to find businesses in their local areas, view the latest social media content and shop with them for rewards. With UK high streets set to see the reopening of non-essential retail in April, the guides make it simple to support local and will help businesses to connect with nearby shoppers. Every purchase by a registered shopper in participating businesses benefits other registered businesses nearby. It does not require any apps to be downloaded and is completely free for shoppers and businesses to access. The guides, better known as Local Rewards, have been created by Maybe*, a social media management platform, that helps businesses use social media to increase their digital activity and boost sales. The Maybe* platform provides all the tools and training businesses might need to increase revenue through social media engagement, even for those that already understand the basics. Ashford Borough Council is sponsoring 1,000 local businesses across the borough to sign up for a Maybe* account using the voucher code ASHFORDBOROUGH95. The account grants them free access to live webinars, training tools and insight tools for 12 months, as well as one to one support from the Maybe* experts. You can read more about Local Rewards and create a Maybe* account by clicking 'sign up your business' here:

  • 02.07.21  ABC JOB CLUB Job Club staff can assist with: Online job searching, Creating email accounts, Registering with online jobs sites such as Universal Jobsmatch, Indeed, Jobs in Kent etc., Updating CV's, Completing application forms, Careers advice, Interview skills and techniques. 


  • 02.07.21 APPRENTICE INCENTIVE PAYMENTS – HM GOVERNMENT EXPIRES 30th Sept 2021 The government has increased the incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice. The incentive payment is in addition to the £1,000 employers already receive for hiring an apprentice. Employers will receive £3,000 for new employees of any age who start their apprenticeship from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021. You can apply for incentive payments for these apprentices from 1 June 2021. Full details are available on the government’s website. 


  • 21.04.21 RETURNING TO THE WORKPLACE - DISPLAY HSE NOTICE  'STAYING COVID SECURE' Once you have carried out a risk assessment of your workplace you should display the notice to show that you have complied with the guidance on managing the risk of coronavirus (COVID- 19). Download and print HSE's poster to sign and display from here: guidance on managing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).  


  • 12.04.21 RECOVERY LOAN SCHEME OPEN  The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) provides financial support to businesses across the UK as they recover and grow following the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses can access loans varying in size from £25,000, up to a maximum of £10 million. Invoice and asset finance is available from £1,000. You can apply to the scheme if Covid-19 has affected your business. You can use the finance for any legitimate business purpose – including managing cashflow, investment and growth. However, you must be able to afford to take out additional debt finance for these purposes. Closing Date 31.12.21. You can read more on the Recovery Loan Scheme here:


  • 12.04.21 NEW UK GIGABIT VOUCHER LAUNCHED The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for communities and businesses in rural areas to have improved broadband connections. Announced on 19 March as part of the wider £5bn ‘Project Gigabit’ programme, the UK Gigabit Broadband Voucher will provide micro-grants of up to £1,500 for households and up to £3,500 for businesses in the hardest to reach rural areas (with current speeds of less than 100Mbps) to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections when part of a group scheme. You can read more on the Gigabit Voucher Scheme here:


  • 07.04.21  APPLY FOR AN HMRC GRANT TO HELP YOUR BUSINESS WITH CUSTOMS DECLARATIONS & COVER THE COST OF THESE ONLINE TRAINING COURSES. The SME Brexit Support Fund could give you up to £2000 to help with training or professional advice, if your business has up to 500 employees and no more than a £100 million annual turnover. The £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund enables traders to access practical support, including training for new customs, rules of origin and VAT processes. Small and medium sized businesses that trade solely with the EU – and are therefore new to importing and exporting processes – are encouraged to apply for the grants.To be eligible, businesses must import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU, or move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For more info go to:          


  • 06.04.21 KICKSTART SCHEME OPEN The Government’s Kickstart Scheme will subsidise six-month work placements for people aged 16-24 and on Universal Credit. You will also receive an additional grant of £1,500 to support the required employability skills training for your placement. The Kent & Medway Chamber of Commerce can help you successfully apply for a Kickstart grant and give you the option of accessing extensive funded and part-funded employability skills training for your placement. Using the Chamber as your Kickstart provider, you have the choice to deliver your own in-house employability skills training or tap into their cross-funded skills provider network. Their network can not only help you access funded training, but ongoing support across all areas of your business such as apprenticeships, internships and much more.You can read more and register youtr interest in the Kickstart scheme here:


  • 06.04.21 WORKPLACE TESTING PROGRAMME  If you have already registered for this scheme you can order until 19th July 2021, however, if you have not previously registered you are no longer able to order free rapid lateral flow tests.  


  • 06.04.21 IMPORT / EXPORT SERVICES FROM THE KENT & MEDWAY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE The Kent & Medway Chamber of Commerce can help your business with a range of import and export services, including export documentation, customs declarations, rules of origin & certification services, and advice & consultancy. In addition, the Kent & Medway Growth Hub offers free EU transition advice by calling 03333 602300 anytime between 08:30-17:00, Mondays-Fridays. You can read more Chamber of Commerce import/export services here:



  • 30.3.21 UK tourism businesses registered ‘We’re Good To Go’ get global ‘Safe Travels’ stamp  VisitBritain has today announced that tourism businesses in the UK registered to the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard scheme can now be automatically issued with the international ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The WTTC stamp enables travellers to recognise destinations around the world which have adopted global standardised protocols - so they can experience ‘Safe Travels'. VisitBritain is coordinating the Safe Travels stamp issue in the UK, on behalf of the WTTC, for businesses registered to the We’re Good To Go scheme, with those who welcome international visitors particularly encouraged to apply. You can read more and apply for the We're Good to Go and Safe Travels schemes here:






  • 29.03.21 Kent Invicta Chamber How can we support you with employment and recruitment issues? By telling us what is impacting your business, and how you are affected by employment and recruitment issues, we can better understand how to support you and the local business community, as well as those that have recently lost their jobs. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with leading recruitment business HR GO Recruitment,( is carrying out vital fieldwork to establish how it should respond to, and assist with, the employment needs of local businesses. We would like to ask you to share your recent employment and recruitment experiences, and plans for the immediate future, by completing our Kent & Medway Employment Outlook survey. ( The survey's findings will also be shared with the Kent & Medway Employment Task Force* and will influence their response to the rising levels of unemployment caused by Covid-19. It is essential that your business’ needs are better understood as the Taskforce strives to support the business community and help local people get back into work over the coming year.


  • 20.02.21 SMARTER CHOICES ENERGY INITIATIVE Smarter Choices has been government-funded to provide straightforward building energy-saving solutions. To develop this new service, SMEs with energy bills above £20,000 per year can now access a limited number of free energy assessments and free measurement & verification equipment for pilot projects which proceed to installation. You will get a free impartial building energy assessment, with no obligation to make any purchase. Handholding support will help you identify financing for the improvement measures recommended by the assessment. Following installation, Smarter Choices may provide free monitoring equipment fitted alongside the improvement measures, saving you money.



15.02.21 Ashford Borough Council

Growth Hub banner reading: "Business Recovery Helpline - Advice and support when you need it the most. Call 03333 602300 - phone lines open 08:30-17:00 Monday to Friday

The helpline is open 08:30-17:00 Mondays-Fridays and can provide support with any business issue you face












  • 23.12.21 CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS GRANTS  ABC are aware of the announcement by the Chancellor on 21 December 2021 that new Covid grant funding will be made available to help businesses in the leisure and hospitality sectors.  They have not received any detailed guidance on this or any funding and are therefore not able to issue grants or answer enquiries at the moment. They will be reviewing their policies and processes over the coming weeks and will provide an update on ABC's website once they receive more information. Please keep checking this webpage for updates:


  • 02.07.21 SPORTING CAPITAL LOAN FUND The £3m Sporting Capital Fund provides loan funding up to £150,000 to eligible projects. The Fund is England’s first social investment fund focused on the sports sector to support the development of community sports organisations and organisations that deliver impact through sport. Their goal is to help these organisations to become sustainable; using our investment to support the development of new, or retain and expand existing, revenue streams. Examples of how loans can be used include: Supporting the development of new or refurbishment of existing facilities; Buying kit and equipment to help deliver activities; Recruitment, training and deployment of staff and volunteers; Equipment to support business functions, including finance, project management and governance; Other operating costs, including working capital. In the region of 30 projects are expected to receive loans.  


  • 02.07.21 GIGABIT BROADBAND VOUCHER SCHEME – DEPARTMENT FOR DIGITAL, CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT The Government is providing up to £210m worth of voucher funding as immediate help for people suffering from slow broadband speeds in rural areas.Vouchers worth up to £1,500 for homes and £3,500 for businesses help to cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband to people’s doorsteps.The new UK Gigabit Voucher launched in April 2021 and is only available through a supplier who is registered with the scheme. You can check whether your premises is eligible for a voucher, find a list of registered suppliers, and see those who are active in your area on the website here: 


  • 02.07.21 BUSINESS RENEWAL SCHEME – POWER TO CHANGE  Power to Change has launched the Community Business Renewal Initiative, a package of support for community businesses, in response to the covid-19 crisis. The support package contains a number of elements including: Community Business Crowdmatch. This helps communities to develop, test or grow your community business. The fund is designed to help you raise funds to cover key costs, help you build your network of supporters and provide match funding. Working with Crowdfunder, Power to Change will offer an investment, up to £10,000, to match the amount raised by your supporters. Community Business ReBoost Fund. This provides grant funding to support the development of a community share offer and achieve the standard mark, as well as match equity investment. The investments will be up to £25,000 of match funding, providing that the minimum share target is achieved. ReBoost Fund is designed to support community businesses to launch their first community share offer and is run by Power to Change in partnership with Cooperatives UK. You can find more details on all elements of the Community Business Renewal scheme on the Power to Change website.


  • MAGIC LITTLE GRANTS FOR SMALL GROUPS –  Application deadline 31st October 2021. Grants of £500 to small charities and community groups. Usually for sports or physical activities but this year will also include going towards project involving the following: Improving mental wellbeing / Enabling community participation in the arts / Preventing or reducing the impact of poverty / Supporting marginalised groups and promoting equality / Improving biodiversity and green spaces / Enabling participation in physical activity / Responding to the climate emergency and promoting sustainability / Increasing community access to outdoor space.


  • KENT COMMUNITY FOUNDATION – Funding available for local charities Your organisation needs to be a constituted group with charitable objects, a registered charity, charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), community interest company (CIC) or not for profit company (limited by guarantee and not shares) in Kent or Medway. If you are not sure about your eligibility contact the Grants Team Mon-Fri 9am-5pm on 01303 814500 or email


  • ASHFORD LEISURE TRUST FUND - SPORTS GROUP FUNDING FOR GROUPS IN THE ASHFORD BOROUGH / email: Closing date 31st December 2021. Do you run a sports group in the Ashford borough? You could apply for funding through the Ashford Leisure Trust Fund with Kent Community Foundation. Charitable groups offering healthy recreation activities to people living within the borough can apply for grants of up to £10,000. Once on the website you will need to scroll down to find the Ashford Leisure Trust Fund to apply.




  • NATIONAL LOTTERY FUNDS The largest community funder in the UK from money raised by National Lottery players. They support communities and want to help make a difference to people's lives.There are several different types of funding available including: NATIONAL LOTTERY AWARDS FOR ALL ENGLAND – funding between £300 - £10,000 for up to one year for voluntary or community organisations. Closing date - ongoing. REACHING COMMUNITIES ENGLAND – funding for over £10,000 or more for up to five years for projects that work with the community, whether that’s a community living in the same area, or with people with similar interests or life experiences. Closing date – ongoing. PARTNERSHIPS – funding for over £10,000 or more for up to five years for voluntary or community organisations that work together with a shared set of goals to help their community thrive – whether it be community living in the same area or people with similar interests or experiences. Closing date – ongoing. #IWILLFUND -  The #iwillfund will enable more young people to take part in social action through high quality opportunities which create lifelong habits. AWARDS FROM THE UK PORTFOLIO – Over £50,000. The UK Portfolio explores new and innovative approaches, and develops and tests new ways of building a stronger civil society. Closing date – ongoing. GROWING GREAT IDEAS – minimum funding is £150,000 for a minimum length of two years. Funding can be available for up to ten years in some circumstances. A total of £25m for this project up to March 2022 & more funding beyond that. The programme has a focus on supporting transformational and long term change. Looking to invest in different compositions of people, communities, networks and organisations over the long term. Closing date – ongoing. FORCES IN MIND – supporting the psychological wellbeing and successful and sustainable transition of veterans and their families into civilian life. Closing date – ongoing. NATIONAL LOTTERY GRANTS FOR HERITAGE - £3000-£5 million.  Programmes for all types of projects that focus on heritage in the UK. They will  prioritise heritage projects that will - boost the local economy;encourage skills development and job creation; support wellbeing; create better places to live, work and visit;  improve the resilience of organisations working in heritage.Every project will need to achieve thier inclusion outcome, ‘a wider range of people will be involved in heritage’.They will also expect all projects to demonstrate that they are building long-term environmental sustainability into their plans, as appropriate  NATIONAL LOTTERY AWARDS FOR ALL ENGLAND - £300-£10,000. To support what matters to people and communities for voluntary or community organisations most adversely impacted by COVID-19. Support can be given to continue to deliver activity – whether in need of crisis response, recovery or business as usual activity. It will support to change and adapt, becoming more resilient to respond to new and future challenges. Closing date-ongoing.


  • ALPKIT FOUNDATION £50 to £500 cash to individuals, community groups, schools and organisations to encourage people to get outdoors and have great experiences that otherwise couldn’t happen.



  • COLYER-FERGUSSON TRUST – INVESTING IN COMMUNITIES  Charities facing a funding crisis due to Coronavirus are encouraged to apply to Colyer-Fergusson Trust through this programme under the ‘stabilising’ theme.


  • CO-OPERATIVES FUND There is a network of thousands of co-operatives across the UK, from community owned pubs, fan owned football clubs to farmer controlled businesses. Co-operatives are worth £36 billion to the UK economy.