Help to Grow: Digital – how can it help my business?

UPDATED: Government offers discounts of up to £5,000 for digital accounting, customer relationship management (CRM) and eCommerce software from approved providers

The Government has updated its Help to Grow: Digital scheme to support 760,000 more small businesses with discounted tech support and software.

It has relaxed the scheme’s eligibility criteria for small businesses as well as making more types of software available and including one-to-one support for SMEs.

The Association of Associated Technicians (AAT) led the campaign to change the scheme’s rules. In February, the body sent a letter to the Small Business Minister with three key recommendations which have all been accepted:

  • Reduce the eligibility threshold from companies employing five or more staff to those employing one or more
  • Expand the range of software available
  • Broaden the range of costs that the £5,000 of available funding can cover to include 1-2-1 training and advice

Changes come into effect from today (July 25).

What is Help to Grow: Digital?

With Help to Grow: Digital, discounts of up to £5,000 are available for one-year licences each on approved digital accounting and customer relations management (CRM) software. It is up to the business as to which software it most needs.

The Government hopes this discounted software will help small businesses manage their finances and build customer relationships, using the same kind of tech used by bigger companies, helping to scale their business.

As part of its announcement, the Government has also made eCommerce software available to help small businesses manage their inventory, take payments and gather data and insight based on customers’ needs. So, businesses can now access up to £5,000 on 30 software solutions from 14 technology suppliers for eCommerce, digital accounting and CRM software.

Applications will be launching for advice platforms to partner with the scheme from today and the advice service will go live later this year.

Former exchequer secretary Helen Whately told SmallBusiness: “This could help thousands of businesses. It’s a huge opportunity and that’s why we’re doing it.”

The Federation of Small Businesses says that one in four businesses lack confidence in their own basic digital skills, research which chimes with Whately who said business owners told her deciding which technology to adopt is complex.

This is why the business department has launched a new online platform offering support and advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity.

The UK ranks eighth in the world for innovation but only 31st in the world for IT adoption.

“There’s a £100bn opportunity if we increase our productivity either through technology or better management practices,” said Ms Whately.

Some small business owners have questioned why they are in effect being penalised with no software discount for having stayed abreast of technology, either using digital CRM or accounting packages already.

Whately said: “You could say, let’s do nothing but we know that Britain has a productivity gap. The size of the prize could be £100bn if we increase our productivity. Now we want to help those remaining businesses get over the hump.”

How do I qualify for Help to Grow: Digital?

To qualify for the Help to Grow: Digital financial discount under the new rules, businesses can be from any business sector, but must meet all four of the following criteria:

  • Be a business based in the UK registered with Companies House or be a registered society on the Financial Conduct Authorities Mutuals Register
  • Employ between one person (who must not be an owner) and 249 people
  • Have been actively trading for over 12 months, and have an incorporation date of, at least, 365 days prior to application
  • Be purchasing the approved software for the first time

How much is the Help to Grow: Digital discount worth?

Eligible businesses will receive one financial discount towards the purchase of one approved software product up to a maximum of £5,000 (not including VAT) for customer relationship management, digital accounting software or eCommerce products.

The financial discount covers 12 months’ worth of approved software product core costs, exclusive of VAT.

Who offers eCommerce software?

Who offers CRM software?

Who offers accounting software?

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said:

“We are very pleased to have worked hard with BEIS to adopt our ask to expand the eligibility criteria of the Help to Grow: Digital scheme to support more small businesses getting the software they need.

“Our research shows the smallest firms are least likely to have adopted tech products because of the lack of resources although they would make the most productivity gains through adoption.

“It’s good that Ministers are listening. Together with the addition of e-Commerce software and one-to-one advice for SMEs on technology adoption, this will help small businesses enhance their operations and drive efficiency and growth.”

Help to Grow: Management

Help to Grow: Digital scheme sits alongside the existing Help to Grow: Management scheme launched in 2021.

Help to Grow: Management offers business leaders management and leadership training. Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, businesses receive 50 hours of training across 12 weeks. The course is 90 per cent funded by Government and delivered by business schools across the UK, with the support of experienced entrepreneurs and leading industry figures. Courses have been running at business schools across the UK since June.

More on Help to Grow

Government to launch £520m Help to Grow scheme for SMEs

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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