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More help for small firms on its way

Written by: Emma Lunn
Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans to launch a £520m Help to Grow scheme to aid companies’ growth after the pandemic.

Help to Grow, due to be announced in tomorrow’s Budget, will help owners of eligible businesses to boost their software and training.

The scheme will cover expert technology advice, discounted digital software, and MBA-style management training. Eligible small and medium enterprises will be given vouchers to get up to 50% off the purchase of new productivity-enhancing software, up to £5,000 each.

Help to Grow is predicted to form part of the government’s Plan for Jobs which is part of a wider framework of Covid-19 support.

Sunak said: “Our brilliant SMEs are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and generating prosperity – so it’s vital they can access the tools they need to succeed. Help to Grow will ensure they are embracing the latest technology and management training, fuelling our plan for jobs by boosting productivity in all corners of the UK.”

Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The announcement of this new scheme to help with growth and innovation will be welcomed by many firms across the country. Projects like this really make a difference for small firms who ware wanting to change the way they operate, expand their horizons as well as strengthen the economy for all. When small firms innovate, a fifth of them have brought a new product to market, while almost all small businesses (95%) have introduced in house innovations.

“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%) use cloud services. On management skills, creating access and funding to business schools could be a game-changer for many, currently only staff from around 20 percent of small firms use this.

“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.”

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