UPDATED: The Help to Grow scheme, announced in today’s Budget, could help 130,000 small and medium-sized businesses.
Help to Grow will provide access to management training, technology advice and discounted software to improve productivity.
This plan will enable access to some of the UK’s top business schools, while encouraging more companies to adopt technology, in the hope of opening up opportunities to small businesses that larger businesses can normally afford.
Business schools will also offer one-to-one support from a mentor.
The scheme has two streams:
Digital will be an online service offering free advice on how businesses can improve their digital capability as well as allowing them to get vouchers for 50 per cent off approved software.
Vouchers are initially expected to be available for software that helps businesses:
• Build customer relationships and increase sales
• Make the most of selling online
• Manage their accounts and finances digitally
The 12-week Management programme will provide subsidised management training to ‘enhance the skills of leaders’ in areas like financial management and digital adoption.
A substantial 30,000 places will be available over three years. The programme is 90 per cent subsidised by government, so participants will have to pay £750.
In response, The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chair Mike Cherry said:
“Projects like this really make a difference for small firms who are wanting to change the way they operate, expand their horizons as well as strengthen the economy for all.
“We have argued that the UK’s productivity challenge needed practical changes to help small businesses to improve their operations and drive efficiency and growth. This means more of a ‘new-to-firm’ approach for innovation, such as helping small businesses access things such as the cloud where currently less than half (40 per cent) use cloud services.
“Crucially with all digital schemes, it is a reminder that for many, access to fast high-speed broadband remains a premium depending where you go in the country. We cannot allow poor infrastructure through a lack of broadband or 5G to prevent small firms from getting a foothold onto important schemes like this.”