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Business support and advice

Government business support

To find government-backed support and finance for business, including: grants, finance and loans; business support such as mentoring and consultancy; and funding for small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups please visit:

Rural England Prosperity Fund

For up-to-date information on grant funding see our Rural England Prosperity Fund page here.


These organisations offer a range of business support, training and help with setting up your business:

Co-operative Futures

Free business advice and support service to groups of people wanting to set up a co-operative or other form of social enterprise. For more information:

County Land and Business Association (CLA)

Safeguarding the interests of private landowners and rural businesses, the Country Land and Business Association have two main functions: exerting political pressure through authoritative briefing and lobbying of policy members; and providing advice services for their members.

Cotswolds Tourism

Cotswolds Tourism is a partnership of businesses serving the visitor economy sector and local authorities, which aims to: 

  • Lead and co-ordinate marketing of the Cotswolds
  • Represent tourism locally, nationally and internationally  
  • Support local tourism businesses

Energy Advice Line

The Energy Advice Line offers impartial advice to help small and medium sized enterprises save money on energy bills.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

The largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms. The Federation of Small Businesses offers its members assistance and support 24 hours a day.

Fredericks Foundation

Fredericks Foundation was set up in 2001 to help people who aspire to run their own business but are unable to obtain the necessary support to do so. Most of Fredericks' clients choose self-employment as the best (and sometimes the only) route out of benefit-dependency.

As a result of the economic downturn, as well as helping people off benefits, Fredericks Foundation has branched out to assist existing companies in need of finance who are unable to obtain it from their bank.

GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership

Gloucestershire has a Local Enterprise Partnership, or LEP, called GFirst, which is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) which leads on economic development within the county. GFirst also co-ordinates bidding for government funding of major projects. In Cotswold District this has included the Applied Digital Skills Centre at Cirencester College which was awarded £4.48 million in 2020. 

Gloucestershire Enterprise Limited

Gloucestershire Enterprise Limited is the local Enterprise Agency for Gloucestershire and operates on a not-for-profit, social enterprise basis.  

Its purpose is to provide organisations in the county with access to a wide range of services that will meet their needs in the short, medium and longer term, either through direct delivery or via our partners.

Gloucestershire Growth Hub

There is a network of growth hubs across the county now, including one in Cirencester which is a partnership with the Royal Agricultural University.

It is the focal point for ambitious businesses which are seeking the relevant information, guidance, support, expertise, finance, knowledge and experience they need to grow. It can help them scale up, boost performance and find new ways of working.

Gloucestershire Skills Portal

The Skills Portal brings together national support, local support and learning opportunities whether you’re out of work, keen to learn new skills or want to start your own business.

National Farmers Union (NFU)

An organisation representing farmers and growers in England and Wales. As well as representing its members' interests, the National Farmers Union provides a wide range of services to them including help with legal, planning and taxation matters, marketing and food promotion.

Open to Export

Open to Export is a community driven service for small and medium sized businesses, looking for help and support in exporting from the UK.

Prince's Trust

The Prince's Trust offers help for 14 to 30 years olds to build confidence, gain skills and start their own business. For more information:

Business Improvement District (BID)

In February 2022, through the government’s ‘Welcome Back Fund’ (which was itself funded by the European Regional Development Fund), we commissioned consultants to look at the feasibility of a Business Improvement District (BID) for Cirencester Town Centre. A Business Improvement District is where a small levy on business rates within a defined area is collected and ring fenced for spending on the priorities of businesses in that area - such as more events, better promotion or improved public spaces. They are typically, but not exclusively, in town and city centres. A BID is its own legal entity with its own board. The money a BID spends must provide additionality - it cannot replace what the Council already spends.  

For Cirencester, it was forecast that a levy would raise £1 million over 5 years to be spent on the priorities of businesses in the town centre. BIDs already exist in Cheltenham and Gloucester, both of which have recently had new 5 year terms approved in renewal ballots.

The consultants’ undertook a consultation with town centre businesses and produced a report which is published below. Just over 80 responses to the consultation were received – about 20% of businesses. 51% were in favour, 23% undecided and 26% against. 

The District Council has considered the report and, in consultation with the Town Council and Chamber of Commerce, decided that this doesn’t represent a mandate for further action at this time - particularly when businesses are already facing increased costs for a variety of reasons. We intend to revisit the idea, again in consultation with businesses and key stakeholders, in a year’s time to see if the circumstances for such an initiative are more favourable then.

In the meantime, we will be looking to strengthen the town centre management arrangements in Cirencester in partnership with key stakeholders like the Town Council and Chamber of Commerce.

We also asked the consultants to look at whether the BID could also be applied to the Love Lane area. Very few responses were received from businesses in that area, indicating a lack of appetite for such an initiative. We will consider what is the best way forward to secure improvements in this area of the town.