As the UK emerges from the pandemic, the government is setting its sights on small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). Through its flagship Help to Grow scheme, it wants them to boost productivity, grow businesses and help drive the economy’s recovery.
So, could Help to Grow help your business? We look at what’s on offer, eligibility and how to apply.
What is Help to Grow?
Help to Grow has two parts, Management and Digital, with a total of £520 million being invested in the scheme over the course of three years. To take part, companies must be:
- Registered in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland)
- From any business sector, but employ between 5 and 249 people
- Operational for at least a year
- Not be a charity
Help to Grow: Management
Help to Grow: Management is a subsidised 50-hour, 12-week practical management training course designed to be completed alongside full-time work. The course costs £7,500, but 90% is covered by the scheme, meaning you pay just £750.
30,000 places are being made available at Small Business Charter (SBC)-accredited business schools.
What does the course entail?
- Eight facilitated online two-hour sessions
- Four in-person case study workshops
- Ten hours of 1:1 mentor support
- Peer group networking
- Alumni events such as business clinics and talks
There are 12 modules on the course which cover: Strategy & innovation, digital adoption, winning new markets, mission & values, marketing strategy, building a brand, organisational design, employees engagement, high performance, efficient operations, financial management, and growth plans.
Participants should expect to finish the course with a tailored growth plan.
Who is eligible?
You must be a senior decision maker and commit to completing all sessions. Only one person per business can attend.
How do I apply?
Courses are open for registration until the end of May 2022, and there are no restrictions on which accredited school a firm can apply to: all will deliver the same curriculum.
Register through the SBC, where you can also browse participating schools. If you cannot find a suitable date or location, or you are in Northern Ireland, register your interest and the SBC will contact you when a suitable course is added.
Help to Grow: Digital
Intended to help SMEs choose, buy and adopt the right digital technologies, the scheme is focused on the core areas of digital accounting and customer relationship management (CRM).
The dedicated Help to Grow: Digital portal offers free, impartial advice to help assess what technology would best serve your company’s needs, including a questionnaire to help you find the right software for your business.
You can apply for discounts of up to 50% worth up to £5,000 off the retail price of approved digital accounting and CRM software.
Who is eligible for financial aid?
Firms must be purchasing the software for the first time. Eligible businesses will receive one financial discount each, covering 12 months’ worth of approved product core costs, exclusive of VAT.
Discounts must be redeemed within 30 days of a successful application. Fraud and verification checks will be carried out, but the government states that this will not affect your business’s credit score.
How do I apply?
Use the support tools to find out what software would best suit you, or simply compare available products. Once you’ve selected the software you want, you will be taken through an online application process.
Help for business
When Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched Help to Grow, he called SMEs “the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and prosperity across the UK”. Help to Grow is designed to provide practical and financial support to enable them to do just that. After a tough couple years, it could provide the boost your business needs.