Small business owners across the country were waiting with anticipation to hear whether the Chancellor would be the bearer of good news when he announced the budget, after all they had suffered more than most, and any support would be welcome.
Rishi Sunak has endured a challenging year as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as the saying goes...”you can’t please all the people all of the time.” But thankfully, Mr Sunak announced several measures to help small businesses, some of those were expected and some were new.
As predicted there were extensions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, aka furlough, and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Small businesses with profits of £50,000 or less would be exempt from the corporation tax increase and there would be VAT cuts as well. And a new Recovery Loan Scheme would replace the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and the Bounce Back Loan Schemes.
There is however, one new measure that has created more interest amongst the small business community than any other; The Help to Grow scheme.
So, what is the Help to Grow scheme?
The £520 million Help to Grow scheme has been devised to provide support to the UKs 130,000 SMEs. The scheme will offer eligible businesses a selection of management training courses and online seminars. The training will be delivered by some of the country’s top business schools and along with technology advice, there will be the option to buy discounted software - more about this later. The government understands the important role small businesses play in the UK economy and this new scheme is aimed at increasing productivity and kick-starting the economy.
How will Help to Grow work?
Under the new scheme, businesses will be able to access digital and management services from June and the training will be held in 12-week programmes. Business owners and bosses can take advantage of up to 50 hours of training from leading business schools and one-to-one support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network.
Part of the scheme involves the creation of a new digital platform where SMEs can receive free advice on technology. This should enable them to target more customers while saving time and money. Businesses that qualify for the scheme will also be offered vouchers entitling them to up to 50% off the cost of purchasing new productivity-enhancing software, up to a maximum of £5,000.
Who is it for?
The scheme is available to businesses that have been trading for more than one year, from any sector, and have between 5 and 249 employees. The person receiving the training should be a key decision maker or someone from the senior management team, such as the CEO or Director of Finance. The training programme includes modules covering innovation, finance and digital adoption and will help small business owners and leaders develop strategic skills. It has been devised to ensure that it fits in with full-time work and will enable participants to drive their business forward and optimise productivity. Charities are not eligible for this scheme.
Small business are in desperate need for support, with many at a critical stage, and although the Help to Grow scheme won’t please everyone, it will hopefully make a significant difference to the majority.
To find out more and to register your interest, please click here