British Business Bank: Start Up Loans

Start Up Loans (British Business Bank) Business Loans logo
  • The British Business Bank provides growth funding to new businesses in the UK. Find out more about how to apply and what you can expect.
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Information written by Henry Williams Last updated on 21 June 2022.

The British Business Bank is a government-owned business development bank that delivers growth funding to startups and growing small businesses.

The Start Up Loans Company is a subsidiary of the British Business Bank. Funded by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, it encourages entrepreneurship by providing loans, mentoring and support to UK startups.

Discover how much you could borrow, whether your business could be eligible, how to apply, and see how Start Up Loans compares to other finance providers.

What is the British Business Bank?

The British Business Bank is a government-owned organisation dedicated to increasing the availability of finance for small businesses.

It does this by helping to create more diverse financial markets and helping small businesses find the most appropriate finance for their needs from more than 130 partner banks, leasing companies, venture capital funds and online funding platforms.

Who is the Start Up Loans Company?

A subsidiary of the British Business Bank, the Start Up Loans company provides loans of between £500 and £25,000 to new businesses and those that have been trading for less than three years.

Successful applicants also currently receive 12 months of free mentoring and support on everything from business plans to cash flow forecasts.

According to Start Up Loans to date, it has lent more than £800m to over 90,000 businesses.

» COMPARE: Start up loans

What is a Start Up Loan?

A Start Up Loan is a cash injection of between £500 and £25,000 from the Start Up Loans Company that could be used to invest in business growth.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for a Start Up Loan, you must be:

  • Over 18
  • A UK resident
  • Starting a new business or trading for less than three years
  • Unable to secure funding from other sources
  • A UK-based business
  • Allowed to work in the UK

You may not be eligible if:

  • You’re an excluded business type such as a weapons, chemicals, pornography, or drugs business (see the full list here)
  • You intend to use the loan for debt repayment, training, qualifications or education, or investment opportunities

The Start Up Loans Company will also run a credit check and assess whether you are able to repay the loan before approving your application.

» COMPARE: Business loan deals

How to apply

You can apply for a Start Up Loan online. First, you’ll have to answer a series of eligibility questions to check you meet the criteria detailed above.

You’ll then be taken to a pre-registration page that outlines the specifics of the loan and the terms. Once you’ve ticked the confirmation box, you just have to enter some personal details and click ‘submit registration’.

How much can I borrow?

You could currently borrow between £500 and £25,000 through the Start Up Loans programme.

However, every individual owner or partner in a business could apply separately for £25,000, with a limit of £100,000 available to each business.

Additionally, if you’ve already secured a Start Up Loan and have been trading for less than five years, you may be eligible for a second loan.

How long will it take?

According to Start Up Loans, if you’re very prepared with final versions of your business plan and cash flow forecast, your application could take as little as two or three weeks to process.

If you need more support to complete the documents for your application, it could take anything from two to three months or even longer to process.

Can all businesses get a Start Up Loan?

No, not everyone can get a Start Up Loan. You can see the full eligibility criteria above. In simple terms, if you’ve been trading for more than three years, are not a UK resident or UK based business, or your business falls into the excluded category, you won’t be approved for a Start Up Loan.

Loan distribution by region

According to data from the start up loans company, currently London-based small businesses have received the lion’s share of all funding distributed by the Start Up Loans programme as of 2021.

However, outside of London, there’s a fairly even distribution of Loans across all regions of the UK.

Businesses in the North West are the second biggest recipients of Start Up Loans. The South East and Yorkshire and The Humber are third and fourth respectively.

Wales, the North East, and Northern Ireland have received the fewest loans.

What do its customers say?

The Start Up Loans Company has received 2.3 out of 5 from 156 reviews on Trustpilot.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a small unsecured loan for your business, and you’ve been trading for less than two years, the Start Up Loans Company may be something to consider.

It could offer loans of between £500 and £25,000, as well as free business mentoring and support, which could be helpful when getting your business off the ground.

The Start Up Loans Company’s own data shows that, while London businesses have been by far the biggest recipients of loans to date, thousands of businesses across all regions of the UK have successfully secured Start Up Loans.

Before making your decision on who to seek funding from, you could check to see how Start Up Loans compares to other finance options.

British Business Bank Start Up Loans FAQs

How can I improve my chances of being approved?

The Start Up Loans Company primarily looks at your ability to repay your loan, and the viability of your business plan and cash flow forecast.

One of the main steps you can take is to improve your credit rating by ensuring you pay your personal and business bills and invoices on time.

You should also make sure that your business plan is realistic and achievable, and that there’s a sufficient market for your idea. If you're unsure how best to present this information, you could access free templates, guides, and advice from your Business Adviser.

How will my credit score affect my application?

As part of your application, The Start Up Loans Company will run a credit check to assess your past and current financial behaviour. A poor credit history could negatively affect your chances of securing a Start Up Loan.

About the author:

Henry is passionate about helping individuals and businesses stay informed. Over the last 8 years, he’s written for startup and small business sites, with a focus on finance, insurance, and websites. Read more

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