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What is the Help to Grow scheme – and how do I apply?

3-minute read

Catriona Smith and Sam Bromley

17 March 2021

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The government’s Help to Grow scheme is expected to provide digital and management training for small businesses to help boost productivity after the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the Chancellor’s announcement of the scheme in the Budget earlier this month, managers of small and medium-sized businesses can now register for two new programmes:

  • Help to Grow: Management
  • Help to Grow: Digital

What is Help to Grow: Management?

This part of the scheme is a new 12-week programme aimed at leaders who want to improve their management, strategic skills, and to drive their business forward.

Starting in June, the government says the programme will help 30,000 businesses over the next three years to:

  • develop a growth plan
  • improve resilience
  • learn how to innovate
  • inspire employee engagement
  • build marketing and financial strategies
  • adopt digital technologies

Companies will be able to access the training from leading business schools across the country through a mix of online and face-to-face tuition, as well as support from a mentor.

There’s a cost of £750 to participants, with the remaining 90 per cent funded by the government.

How do I apply?

The programme isn’t open for applications yet, but you can register your interest online now.

To join the programme, you must be a senior manager or key decision maker in your business.

To be eligible, your business must:

  • have been operating for more than one year
  • be based in the UK
  • have between five and 249 employees
  • not be a charity

What is Help to Grow: Digital?

The Digital part of the Help to Grow scheme will launch in the autumn. It’s expected to be an online platform that will give businesses advice on how “technology can boost their performance”.

Some businesses will also be eligible for a voucher, giving them up to a 50 per cent discount on approved software. It could save businesses up to £5,000 on the cost of new technology.

The government says the discounts will be available on packages that’ll help businesses:

  • build customer relationships and increase sales
  • make the most of selling online
  • manage their accounts and finances digitally

How do I apply?

More details will be announced in the summer, which means full eligibility criteria haven’t been finalised yet.

But the government has already said that the free online advice platform will be open to all businesses.

Full details of eligibility for the software voucher haven’t been announced. But you need to be a limited company to register your interest initially, because the government will find your business’s details using your Companies House number.

The government expects that the voucher will be open to businesses that have:

  • between five and 249 employees and are registered at Companies House
  • been trading for more than 12 months
  • not bought the discounted software before

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Why has the government introduced Help to Grow?

The Guardian reports that on output per hour worked, the UK is lagging behind other G7 countries like the US, France, and Japan.

This productivity gap is something that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is keen to close – and is why the government is putting £520 million into the Help to Grow scheme.

The Treasury expects that positive results from the Help to Grow scheme could add £100 billion to the UK economy. Rishi 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.”

Are you going to take advantage of Help to Grow? Let us know in the comments.

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