Edinburgh Small Business: Government Schemes & Tax Incentives

Edinburgh office-based businesses can access a variety of government-backed initiatives with financing and other business development supports. Financing and business support helps a company expand and develop new products or services. These supports also facilitate access to new markets and help attract investment and employees. The following is an overview of some key government schemes.



Enterprise Investment Schemes

The Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme encourage investors to purchase stocks in businesses. The HM Revenue & Customs tax relief schemes are valuable tools for attracting investment. The two schemes are available to investors purchasing stocks in businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Full eligibility criteria are available from HM Revenue & Customs. In some cases, relief from the Capital Gains Tax may also be provided through the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Enterprise Management Incentives

Enterprise Management Incentives helps businesses attract and retain employees with tax-advantaged share options. Designed for high-risk independent trading companies, the incentive is available for small and medium sized enterprises with fewer than 250 employees. The Enterprise Management Incentives scheme allows these businesses to provide tax-advantaged share options up to £250,000 to employees.

Research and Development Relief

The Research and Development Relief scheme supports businesses that are investing in projects that resolve scientific or technological uncertainty. Offered by HM Revenue & Customs, businesses may use this scheme to reduce their tax bill or access a tax credit with a cash payment if a business is liable for Corporation Tax. Under the scheme, 10 per cent of eligible science or technology research and development expenses may be covered.

Grant Accelerator

The Grant Accelerator programme is an initiative backed by the UK Government and delivered by private sector growth experts. It provides advice and coaching to help business access financing, innovate and develop. Grants are also provided to address individual leadership and management training needs to ensure quick and sustainable growth. Grant Accelerator is for businesses based in England and registered in the United Kingdom. Companies must have less than 250 employees with an annual turnover of less than £40 million. They must also be independent and not part of a larger group.

Gateway to Global Growth

Gateway to Global Growth supports small and medium sized enterprises expanding into overseas markets. Businesses with fewer than 250 employees are eligible for programme, which is delivered by UK Trade and Investment. With programme provides customised advice and support. It improves the viability of expanding into new overseas markets by reducing risks, overcoming barriers, development skills and maximising opportunities. Each company is assigned an International Trade Advisors, who completes a strategic review of the company’s needs and an action plan. The programme also helps businesses access networking and mentoring opportunities.


Edinburgh Small Business Loan Fund

The City of Edinburgh Council offers interest free loans of up to £2,500 through its Small Business Loan Fund. Loans are available for new or recently started businesses that are based in Edinburgh and are locally owned and managed. The programme supports businesses that have difficult accessing other forms for financing from traditional sources, such as banks. Loans may be used for projects that will help the business grow. Generally, the Fund is available for businesses in their first year of trading employing 10 or fewer employees.

East of Scotland Investment Fund

The East of Scotland Investment Fund provides loans of up to £50,000. Loans are available for growing small and medium sized enterprises with a commercially viable project but have been unable to secure sufficient funding from traditional financing sources. Business must be a limited company or limited liability partnership. They must also be able to provide match funding from the private sector to support the project. The Fund is supported by the Scottish Government and the European Commission’s European Regional Development Fund.

Business Rate Reductions

Ratepayers in Edinburgh are eligible for a variety of business rate reductions. Unoccupied business properties may receive relief from the City of Edinburgh Council for up to three months, while 90 per cent of the property charge is billed following this initial period unless the property is exempted. Additional rate relief is also available for business properties that have been empty for at least 12 months and for new build properties. The Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme also provides relief for business properties with a combined rateable value of £18,000.

Finding More Information

Information on other government-backed financing and business supports is available from the UK Government’s Business Finance and Support Finder. Advice and support is also available from Business Gateway Edinburgh.