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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.


  • 20.02.20 REGISTER TO ORDER CORONAVIRUS TESTS FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES THAT CANNOT WORK FROM HOME The government has made it easier for companies with at least 50 employees to access rapid Coronavirus testing. An online portal has been launched where you can order regular tests so that outbreaks can be spotted quickly. Around one in three people who have Coronavirus have no symptoms and may be unknowingly spreading the virus. This expansion of testing will find more positive cases, keeping workers who cannot work from home unknowingly passing on the virus and protecting vital public services. All those who can work from home should continue to do so.


  • 20.02.21 GOING GLOBAL IN A DAY  Applications close Thursday, 25th February 2021 at 5:00pm GMT. Going Global in a Day is a free two-day virtual event on 2nd-3rd March for South East of England businesses seeking to explore new export markets and achieve international expansion. This unique event enables you to select, meet and showcase your business to experts from over 30 global markets. During private 1-2-1 meetings, they will offer you bespoke advice and critical market insights to help your business explore its global potential. If you are looking to build relationships, open doors and boost sales in new export destinations, apply today for Going Global in a Day. With a range of free sector-specific exporting seminars throughout the day, it's an opportunity not to be missed.


  • 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.


  • 20.02.21 STEP UP TO SOCIAL WORK The online recruitment process for the Department for Education initiative, ‘Step Up to Social Work’ is now live, and applications to enrol in the next cohort will be accepted until the closing date of 7th April. Step Up aims to encourage graduates and career changers to start a new career in social work, working with vulnerable children, young people and families. This is a full-time, fully funded programme that has been running for eleven years and consists of 14-months of intensive study and real-life placements, leading to a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. In turn, the programme enables applicants to apply for a role as a social worker upon completion.


  • 16.02.21 GRANTS TO HELP SMALL & MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESSES NEW TO IMPORTING OR EXPORTING – SME BREXIT SUPPORT FUND How you’ll apply: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will be administering the grants for HMRC. You will apply online but the applications are not open yet. The SME Brexit Support Fund could give you up to £2,000 to help with training or professional advice, if your business has up to 500 employees and no more than £100 million annual turnover. Applications for the SME Brexit Support Fund will open soon. What you’ll be able to use the grant for: You can use the grant for training on: how to complete customs declarations / how to manage customs  processes and use customs software and systems /specific import and export related aspects including VAT, excise and rules of origin. It can be used to help you get professional advice so your business can meet its customs, excise, import VAT or safety and security declaration requirements. Who will be able to apply: Your business must be established in the UK / have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application, or currently hold Authorised Economic Operator status / not have previously failed to meet its tax or customs obligations / have no more than 500 employees / have no more than £100 million turnover/ import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU, or moves goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Your business must also either:complete (or intend to complete) import or export declarations internally for its own goods / use someone else to complete import or export declarations but requires additional capability internally to effectively import or export (such as advice on rules of origin or advice on dealing with a supply chain)


  • 15.02.21 From Ashford Borough Council -  BUSINESS UPDATE – We are aware that the January lockdown business grant payments, which we have been paying over the last month, run until Monday 15 Feb 2021. We are waiting to hear from the government what the next steps are. Once we have this information we will contact eligible businesses to let them know. Please do not contact us in the meantime as we are unable to answer queries until we have the information from the government. Information will also be posted online. Here you will also find all the relevant information on different types of grants and where to apply.

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



  • 12.02.21 Business Bounce Back Loan repayment period extended The Government has announced changes to the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) available to small businesses in the UK that will give  companies longer to repay what they have borrowed. Under the current scheme, firms get interest-free loans for the first year. However, many businesses that took out a loan last year will have to begin repaying the money lent to them in May. With large parts of the country likely to remain in lockdown for many weeks to come, the Government is making changes to its existing ‘Pay as you Grow’ (PAYG) initiative that is designed to give small businesses greater support to repay their loan, without it adversely affecting their recovery. Under the new arrangements, businesses will have the option to: * Extend the length of the loan from six years to 10. *Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times during the life of the loan. *Pause repayments entirely for up to six months. This will mean that businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out. You can read more about Business Bounce Back Loans here:


12.02.21 - Get Ready for Revaluation
The next revaluation of business rates is underway in England and Wales - Revaluation 2023. Providing your rental information ensures the business rates you pay are accurate. If you receive a request for rent, lease and ownership details from the Valuation Office Agency you should go ahead and complete the form. It takes less than 30 minutes to ensure your business rates are accurate.









  • 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.