Sources of funding

It can sometimes be a challenge to start or build a business without an injection of cash at the beginning. There are various sources of funding available to help small businesses like yours get off the ground.

Start-up loans

There are some organisations that will provide access to money in the form of a start-up loan. For example, The Start Up Loans Company, which is a subsidiary of the British Business Bank and delivers the Government’s Start Up Loans programme. They provide finance and support for businesses who might struggle to access other forms of finance.

You may apply for an unsecured personal loan, to be used for business purposes only. The loan has a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum, repayable over a term of one to five years. They also offer up to 15 hours of mentoring support during the first year if your application is successful.

There are certain eligibility criteria you should meet to be able to apply for a Start Up Loan:

  • You’re 18 years of age or over;
  • You’re a current UK resident;
  • You’re starting a new business or have been trading for up to 24 months;
  • You’re unable to secure finance from other sources (self-declaration is ok);
  • Your business is based in the UK;
  • You have the right to work in the UK;
  • Your business type and loan purpose are eligible under the terms of the scheme; and
  • You pass our credit checks and you can afford to repay the loan.

A credit check will be conducted, with your consent. If you’re approved for credit you will have to provide some documents. The organisation will review your business plan and cash flow forecast to assess the viability of your business, and a personal survival budget, to assess your affordability for the loan. 

You will also be assigned a business adviser to help you to put the application together, so don’t worry if you haven’t written these types of documents before. The company also has templates for all of the documents, to help you out.

You can begin an application by registering on the website. You’ll then receive an email which will detail the next steps of the process.

You can call the Start Up Loans Company on 0344 264 2600, or email them at with any questions you have or for help completing your application. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm (excluding bank holidays).

Early Years Inclusion Funding

What is Early Years Inclusion Funding?

Early Years Inclusion Funding, also known as Special educational needs (SEN) Inclusion Fund is a pot of money that every local authority must have to support early year’s providers in meeting the needs of individual children with SEN in their setting.

What is the purpose of the fund?

All children develop and learn in different ways and at varying rates and they will all have areas of strengths and special interests along with areas for development. A child may have a special educational need if, despite appropriate activities and an individualised support plan, they continue to experience greater difficulty in learning than their peers.

Therefore, this funding if awarded would provide financial support to initiate and deliver the special educational provision that is additional to and different from the support made generally available to other children of the same age.

Which children are eligible for the SEN Inclusion Fund?

The fund is to support children who are taking their early years entitlements, up to a maximum of 15 hours (2 year olds) and 30 hours (3&4 year olds), where there is evidence that the child has a low level or emerging need. For example, the child may have been referred to and / or be known to one or more health and/or education professionals. As a practitioner you may be able to demonstrate that the child is experiencing a delay in some of their developmental milestones.

Which Early Years Providers can make a request for SEN funding?

All early years providers who are registered to offer the early years funding entitlements can claim on behalf of the child.

How do I apply for the funding?

Different Local Authorities administer the funds differently, however you will usually find details of how to apply via your Local Authorities ‘Local Offer’ page. You would then complete an application and the decision will be made by a Local Authority panel.

What can I use the funding for?

The funding should be used to put in low level, early support to improve outcomes for the child and reduce longer term difficulties. Examples of how providers can use the fund include:

  • Enhance staff ratios within the environment in order to increase the capacity of the children's key person to offer adult focused activities/support specific intervention
  • Key persons time to engage with specialist support from outside agencies, such as speech and language therapy, physiotherapy
  • Support for co-ordinating key worker duties, such as team around the child

The SEN Inclusion Funding will not support

  • The delivery of the Universal Offer (standard inclusive practice) offered to all children
  • Resources available through the Local Offer
  • The cost of resources and/or equipment available via other funding opportunities offered by the Local Authority (this includes third party funding)
  • The cost of specialist support from outside agencies that has been privately arranged by a third party
  • One to One support (unless specified on an EHC Plan)
  • To keep records up to date
  • Transitions to school
  • Settling in periods
  • Toileting (unless this is related to the child's SEND)
  • Attending meetings and training

I look after a child with an EHCP, can I apply for funding for them?

The SEN Inclusion Fund is targeted at children with emerging SEN. It does not cover children who are already receiving support through an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

What happens when the child transitions into reception class?

Schools receive their SEN funding in a different way to early years. When a child transitions into reception class the school will use the financial resources within their school budget initially and then any additional funding to support the child will be agreed through the schools funding system.

A child I look after attends 2 different settings, can we both apply for the funding?

If a child accesses their early education entitlement from more than one provider, each provider can make a claim to the SEN Inclusion fund, based on the individual child's needs in their setting. The maximum number of hours available to claim will be the amount funded by the Local Authority.

Is there any other funding available for children with SEN in my setting?

The Disability Access Fund (DAF) supports providers to make reasonable adjustments to their settings and helps to build capacity.  3 and 4 year olds will be eligible for DAF if the child receives free early education and is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. 4 year olds in reception classes are not eligible. The settings of 3 and 4 year olds eligible for DAF will be entitled to receive a one-off payment of £615 per year.  Providers can use this funding for the individual child or for the benefit of all children attending the setting and it will help schools and settings meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010. Settings will ask parents/carers to show proof that their child is receiving Disability Living Allowance. If you feel that a child in your setting may be eligible for DLA, you can support them to claim using The Department for Work and Pensions Disability Living Allowance claim form. Contact A Family provide useful guidance on how to complete the application.

Please remember that the information on these pages is for your guidance only, and you should seek financial advice from a suitably qualified person. 

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