The UK government recently launched the ‘Help to Grow’ scheme, designed to help small businesses learn new skills, reach new customers, and ultimately boost profits.
The scheme was announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget in March to support UK businesses looking to get back on track following the impact of the COVID-19 and numerous lockdowns. Registrations are now open and there are two key elements that business owners and managers need to be aware of:
- Help to Grow: Management
- Help to Grow: Digital
We’ve taken a closer look at both of them to explore what’s on offer, and help you decide if one of the options could be exactly what your business needs right now.
What is the Help to Grow Management scheme?
Speaking at the launch of Help to Grow, the Chancellor said:
“Help to Grow: Management will ensure our brilliant SMEs seize every opportunity to grow, fuelling our Plan for Jobs by boosting productivity in all corners of the UK.”
The Help to Grow Management programme is essentially a 12-week course delivered by different business schools across the country. Combining a practical curriculum and support from business mentors, the scheme is targeted at decision makers in businesses.
That includes chief executives, founders and others holding senior management positions who will have the chance to learn from leading figures in business alongside their full-time role. Modules include a focus on:
- Financial management
- Digital adoption
- Developing a tailored business plan
Over the next three years, 30,000 places will be on offer at a price of £750 thanks to a 90% subsidy by the government.
How to apply for the How to Grow Management scheme
The only requirement to take part is that your business must have been in operation for at least one year and your business must employ between 5 and 249 staff members.
Courses are already underway, and you can sign up for future courses on the Small Business Charter website.
What is Help to Grow Digital scheme?
Unlike the management programme, the Help to Grow: Digital scheme is completely free and even offers future discounts. If you are in need of impartial advice on the benefits of digital technology in your business, this online platform could open new doors to success.
Expected to be operational by autumn, the platform is open to anyone in business looking to expand their knowledge in areas of digital transformation.
In addition to receiving practical advice on the benefits of technology, vouchers for business software will also be issued. Worth up to £5,000 and with discounts of up to 50%, these vouchers could help you buy specific software designed to help businesses:
- Build customer relations
- Increase sales digitally
- Manage accounts and finances
How to apply for the Help to Grow Digital scheme
The platform is yet to launch so the eligibility criteria has not yet been published, but you can pre-register interest by visiting the government website. All you’ll need is your Companies House number and an email address to verify who you are.
Is my business eligible for the Help to Grow scheme?
The industry you operate in does not matter when it comes to the Help to Grow scheme. The knowledge and skills on offer through Help to Grow: Management are applicable to all businesses, and the grants of up to £5,000 are expected to be available to all businesses that need them. That includes:
- eCommerce retailers
- Construction companies
- Manufacturing businesses
- Healthcare companies
- Hospitality sector businesses
The free grants of up to £5,000 are likely to be particularly appealing for SMEs, so it’s well worth registering your interest now so you can look to take advantage of the scheme as soon as possible.
Why does the Help to Grow scheme matter to UK SMEs?
In the UK, small and medium-sized (SME) businesses contribute over £600 billion annually but after a challenging 18-months, many businesses have seen their customer bases and profits reduce. The Treasury estimate that the Help to Grow scheme will add an additional £100 billion to the UK economy, securing the future of many small businesses and helping create a brighter future for business leaders.
The Chancellor acknowledged the crucial role of SMEs in UK PLC when he said:
“Our brilliant SMEs are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and generating prosperity – so it’s vital that they can access the tools they need to succeed.”
It’s clear that the government wants to be seen to be doing everything it can to help SMEs, so it makes sense to take advantage of the scheme if you can.
What if my business needs additional support or finance?
Although the Help to Grow Scheme could offer a welcome boost for lots of UK small businesses, the reality is that for many, more help and support will be needed.
Capify specialises in alternative business finance solutions for UK SMEs and in a recent survey, it was found that 54 per cent of respondents said uncertainty over the future will be their number one challenge during the next 12 months. The survey also found that one in three SMEs expect to need some form of financial support in that period too, as businesses across every sector look to recover and bounce back strongly.
A special Small Business Fund of £50m was launched by Capify earlier this year specifically to support SMEs that do need additional support, so if you are looking for finance to cover a short term cashflow need or to support your future growth, get in touch with our team today to see how Capify could help you.