Financial support available for East Durham businesses to reduce their carbon footprint

Jul 15, 2021 | Business

If you’re one of Durham’s small businesses, you can get a range of financial support to help cut your carbon footprint and save the planet.

Going green can bring many benefits to your business. According to CDP data, if you properly insulate your building, you may be able to make back the money you spend in a year.

Making greener choices now, as the UK gears up for the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow in November, is the perfect time to make savings on your running costs and show your customers you’re serious about sustainability.

A recent Deloitte survey of UK consumers revealed more than a quarter have changed their buying habits because of ethical or environmental concerns, and it makes good business sense to attract new customers who want to buy sustainably.

Join the many small businesses taking action on climate change by signing up to the SME Climate Commitment at the UK Business Climate Hub, where you’ll also find tools and resources to help you.

If you’re starting out on your net zero journey, here are five tips to help you to navigate and access the support available to go green:

You can apply for a national financial support scheme today

  1. Install vehicle charging points with the Workplace Charging Scheme

Get a voucher for installing vehicle charging points in your workplace to help both the business and your staff go green. The vouchers cover up to 75% of purchase and installation costs, up to a maximum of £350 per charge point socket, and a maximum of 40 charging points per site.

Find out more at www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-grants-for-low-emission-vehicles#workplace-charging-scheme

  1. Save money by replacing your business vehicles with the Plug-in Charging Grant Scheme

Grants are available to help pay for low-emission vehicles.

The grant will pay for 35% of the purchase price for selected small vans, up to a maximum of £3,000. The grant will also pay for 35% of the purchase price for selected large vans, up to a maximum of £6,000.The first 200 large vans ordered through the scheme will receive a grant of £20,000 or a maximum of 20% of the purchase price. This will then drop to the same grant as a standard van.

The grant is also worth up to £2,500 of the purchase price of a car. Eligible cars must cost less than £35,000. And don’t forget, many green actions pay for themselves in the long term.

Find out more at www.gov.uk/plug-in-car-van-grants

  1. Benefit by claiming tax relief on the green actions you take

You can claim tax relief by claiming capital allowances, when you buy energy saving equipment for your business.

This includes some cars with low CO2 emissions, as well as energy and water saving equipment, gas, biogas and hydrogen refuelling equipment and new zero-emission goods vehicles.

You can claim on your annual tax return.

Find out more by visiting www.gov.uk/capital-allowances/first-year-allowances

  1. Help your staff go greener and stay healthy too, through the Cycle to Work Scheme

You can offer staff the opportunity to hire new bikes and cycling equipment as part of a salary sacrifice scheme. Any size business can operate a cycle to work scheme.

Find out more at www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycle-to-work-scheme-implementation-guidance

Find targeted support where you live

  1. Local support through the Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP)

This scheme is available for businesses in County Durham with fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover of €50 million and/or a balance sheet no greater than €34 million.

It helps small and medium sized businesses in the region to make savings through energy efficiency and energy awareness.

Interested firms arrange an audit with BEEP – this identifies where energy and cost savings can be made.

Businesses are also able to apply for grants for new equipment, covering upgrades that are not part of the building structure.

For more information visit beep.uk.net

Alternatively, speak with your bank or accountant about tailored green business finance.

Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive, said: “As supporters of the greening of the economy, we know that businesses often find it difficult to translate their aspirations into practical actions that make a difference.

“We believe that the government’s new Together for our Planet campaign is a good place to start, and that chartered accountants should encourage the many small companies they advise to consider making the SME Climate Commitment and exploring the options for green financing.”

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO, British Business Bank, added: “The British Business Bank’s mission is to drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the UK, and to enable the transition to a net zero economy, by improving access to finance for smaller businesses.

“We are pleased to support the Together for our Planet campaign, and would encourage smaller businesses to join us in the #RacetoZero by exploring the finance options that will help them take the practical steps today, that support the net zero goals of tomorrow.”

Many banks have specialised loans that can be used specifically for green improvements.

Rishi Madlani, Head of Climate and Sustainable Finance at NatWest Group, which is supporting the campaign, said: “We know that SMEs can and need to play a key role in helping to meet the UK’s ambitions to be Net Zero. The UK’s 6 million small businesses make up 99% of the UK’s business ecosystem and we bank around 1 in 4 of these businesses across the UK.

“We know our customers want to act but currently face barriers such as not knowing what actions they can take, what financial support is out there and they often lack consistent data. The UK Business Climate Hub will help businesses to identify actions they can take and support climate action around the UK.”