Last week we organised a webinar with Laurance Basco who works within BEIS, the government department focused on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He joined us to expand on the Help To Grow scheme, which is aimed squarely at the kind of SME’s that make up the MI sector.
The scheme is essentially a fund to help businesses grow, by targeting two areas where research has shown many SME’s lack the required skills or infrastructure.
Help To Grow: Management
The first of these is Management Training. Through the scheme a business can take advantage of a training package specifically designed to up-skill Managers & Business Owners and help them identify, develop and implement strategies for sustainable growth.
The course itself delivers around 50 hours of training over a 12 week period, and is designed to be undertaken alongside normal working hours. The sessions are a picture of virtual and face-to-face and are delivered by a countrywide network of Business Schools, all of whom have Small Business Charter Accreditation.
And of course the big incentive is that the course is 90% government funded, meaning you get £7500 worth of high quality skills development for £750.
You can find a more detailed summary of the scheme here.
Help To Grow: Digital
The second part of the scheme is based around helping SME’s establish a fit-for-purpose digital infrastructure. It aims to tackle the barriers small businesses face in successfully adopting productivity-enhancing digital technologies.
The scheme is delivered through a new online platform, where businesses can compare and choose from a range of approved software products from leading technology suppliers.
Eligible businesses are also able to claim a financial discount covering up to 50% the costs of approved, technology solutions up to a maximum of £5,000.
From today (25th July) the Help To Grow Digital Scheme has been enhanced to not only allow more businesses to take part but also widen the types of support available;
- From 25th July the Government will expand eligibility for the Help to Grow: Digital scheme so that more businesses are able to take part by reducing the minimum number of employees the business must have from 5 to 1. This will mean the number of businesses able to apply is almost tripling in size, with up to 1.2 million UK businesses being eligible to access discounts worth up to £5,000 on approved software.
- Alongside this, we will also launch our expanded offer, adding e-Commerce software to support businesses to sell online and reach new markets. This includes helping them to manage their inventory, take payments and gather data and insights on customers’ needs. Businesses which adopt e-Commerce software see on average a 7.5% increase in employee sales over 3 years.
- Furthermore, the Help to Grow: Digital scheme will also support one-to-one advice for small and medium-size businesses on digital tech adoption. We will open for applications for advice platforms to partner with us from next Monday (TBC) with the aim of the service being in place for SMEs later this year.
You can find a summary of the Digital scheme here.
The more we find out about this scheme, particularly the improvements that have been announced today, the more we think it’s a bit of a no-brainer. The Management course looks in-depth, practical and targeted in a way that would support many member businesses. The opportunity to take a step away to think about your business, as well as the chance to network with other SME’s from different backgrounds, is worth the £750 alone.
The expansion of the Digital scheme to include e-Commerce tools will now make it more attractive to many MI resellers looking to develop that side of their offer. The MIA began a journey of digital investment about 15 months ago and it has without doubt developed our overall offer to members – we would absolutely have explored this had it been available at the time.
Of course the proof of the pudding really is in the eating, and until we have first hand experience back from members we can’t be 100% sure, but it already looks like something our sector should grab a hold of before it disappears.