Eligibility criteria for interest-free green loans relaxed to encourage more applications from small businesses.
The Carbon Trust has today revamped its £100m green business loan scheme in an attempt to make it more accessible for small and medium-sized businesses.
The scheme, which offers businesses interest-free and unsecured loans to help fund spending on energy-saving technologies, has been extended, with the minimum loan amount being cut from £5,000 to £3,000. The maximum loan size has been doubled to £400,000.
The Carbon Trust said the changes to the eligibility criteria were designed to reach very small micro-businesses and medium-sized businesses with high energy bills, such as those in the manufacturing sector.
It added that a loan of £3,000 would allow a small firm to upgrade to a new energy-efficient boiler or lighting system, while a loan of £400,000 would be sufficient for a medium-sized manufacturing firm to fit its factory with the latest low-energy equipment.
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, urged businesses to apply for the loans as soon as possible.
"Our zero per cent loan offer is as close to free money as a business can get, and is flexible enough to help almost any small or medium business, from a fish and chip shop to a factory," he said. "We are extending a helping hand to them by offering more than £100m in interest-free, unsecured loans at a time when bank funding is hard to come by."
The government-backed company said it remained on track to distribute £100m over the next two years.
The loans are primarily aimed at small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 250 staff, but all businesses that are not covered by the government's impending Carbon Reduction Commitment trading scheme are eligible for the loans.
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