“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and prosperity across the United Kingdom.” These are the words of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, as he launched the Government’s new £520m Help to Grow scheme.
The initiative aims to give SMEs the tools they need to innovate, grow and help drive the UK’s recovery from Covid-19. To do this, there are two strands:
- Help to Grow: Digital – which aims to encourage SMEs to adopt digital technologies that are proven to increase their productivity
- Help to Grow: Management – which offers training to help SME business leaders to increase productivity, seize investment opportunities and grow their business
In this article, we look at both strands and how your business can benefit from them.
What is Help to Grow: Digital?
Help Grow: Digital has two elements and is set to run for three years via a phased approach in several waves. The first wave launched in December 2021.
The first element is an online hub with free and impartial online support that SMEs can tap into to discover how digital technology can boost their business’ performance. The aim is to help SMEs to:
- Identify their digital technology needs
- Assess technology purchasing options
- Implement new technologies in their operations
The second element of Help to Grow: Digital will provide eligible SMEs with a grant token for 50% off the cost of pre-approved, technological solutions up to £5k. These grant tokens are valid for 12 months and can be redeemed with approved vendors.
To qualify for a voucher, your business must:
- Be registered in the UK at Companies House
- Employ between five and 249 employees
- Have been trading for more than 12 months
- Be buying an approved product for the first time
Eligible SMEs will be able to claim a grant token for one technological product only for wave one and won’t be able to use it to buy a product that they already own or have a subscription for.
The three technology solutions launched as part of wave one are:
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
To register for Help to Grow: Digital, click here to enter your Companies House registration number. The Government will then get in touch when software becomes available, and how you can apply for the 50% discount.
What is Help to Grow: Management?
Already live, the Help to Grow: Management programme aims to give 30k SMEs access to business expertise on leadership, marketing, employee engagement and financial management.
Leading business schools across the nation are offering 50 hours of tuition, including one-to-one support from a mentor, help with developing a business growth plan, peer-learning sessions and access to an alumni network. What’s more, the programme is 90% funded by the Government, meaning you’ll only pay £750.
Help to Grow: Management is being delivered in partnership with the Small Business Charter and, by heading to its website, you can sign up for a 12-week course near you.
If you’re thinking of applying, attendees need to be a decision maker within your business and your company must:
- Be based in the UK
- Have between five to 249 employees
- Have been operating for more than a year
- Have at least one link of management in the business structure
Charities are not eligible for Help to Grow: Management.
As the UK finds its feet after the pandemic, the Chancellor says, “Help to Grow will fuel our plan for jobs and boost productivity in all corners of the UK and turbocharge our economic recovery”.