By Ben Simmons

UK businesses are missing out on Government support to help them improve their growth and environmental impact, according to new research by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks.

The Banks’ research found that only five per cent of small firms surveyed said they had taken advantage of entrepreneurial or research and development tax relief, capital allowances or Government investment incentives aimed at improving environmental performance. Perhaps even more alarming is that only a little over a third of companies are even aware of these schemes’ existence.

Capital allowances were the most well-known of the initiatives (41%), followed by Government investment incentives (36%), R&D relief (30%) and entrepreneurial relief (28%).

“While there are a range of incentive schemes available to businesses throughout the UK, it is apparent that few businesses are actually aware of what initiatives they can access and how,” says Colin Fyfe, divisional director at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks.

“While not all funding and relief schemes are green-focused, there are a number of environmental initiatives that could benefit a business’ bottom line, as well as help them improve their green credentials, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive, Feed-In Tariffs and the Green Deal.”

Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) pay individuals and businesses for producing their own electricity via solar or wind power, as well as a reduction on standard electricity bills. The Renewable Heat Incentive is the next step on from FITs and measures the renewable heat produced by systems such as solar thermal panels, heat pumps or a biomass boiler.

The Green Deal is a Government incentive with the aim of upgrading energy inefficient buildings across the UK. Businesses and individuals will be able to have improvements made to their properties, such as insulation, with the suppliers being paid for these improvements via the Energy Bill — saving on upfront and longer-term heating costs for the recipients.

Colin Fyfe continued: “These incentive schemes are established to encourage businesses to work more efficiently and ultimately save money. For the take-up to be less than one in twenty is concerning.

“All businesses could be looking at how they save on their energy costs just by adopting simple measures such as encouraging staff to turn lights off after use, regularly checking thermostat settings and switching computers off at night.”

One such business that is benefitting from Feed-In Tariffs is the Norfolk-based Rookery Business Park, which is now home to one of the largest multi-tenanted solar projects of its kind in the UK, and has been made possible by funding provided by Clydesdale Bank.

The industrial lets were poultry sheds prior to the conversion around five years ago and electricity generated at the site will be sold to park occupiers at a reduced rate; saving each company hundreds of pounds annually.

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