UPDATED: The Government has launched its Help to Grow: Digital scheme to support small businesses with discounted tech support and software.
Discounts of up to £5,000 are available for one-year licences each on approved digital accounting and customer relations management (CRM) software. It is up to the business as to which software it most needs.
The Government hopes this discounted software will help small businesses manage their finances and build customer relationships, using the same kind of tech used by bigger companies, helping to scale their business.
Exchequer secretary Helen Whately told SmallBusiness: “This could help thousands of businesses. It’s a huge opportunity and that’s why we’re doing it.”
The Federation of Small Businesses says that one in four businesses lack confidence in their own basic digital skills, research which chimes with Whately who said business owners told her deciding which technology to adopt is complex.
This is why the business department has launched a new online platform offering support and advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity.
The UK ranks eighth in the world for innovation but only 31st in the world for IT adoption.
“There’s a £100bn opportunity if we increase our productivity either through technology or better management practices,” said Ms Whately.
Some small business owners have questioned why they are in effect being penalised with no software discount for having stayed abreast of technology, either using digital CRM or accounting packages already.
Whately said: “You could say, let’s do nothing but we know that Britain has a productivity gap. The size of the prize could be £100bn if we increase our productivity. Now we want to help those remaining businesses get over the hump.”
Help to Grow: Management
Help to Grow: Digital scheme sits alongside the existing Help to Grow: Management scheme launched in 2021.
Help to Grow: Management offers business leaders management and leadership training. Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, businesses receive 50 hours of training across 12-weeks. The course is 90 per cent funded by Government and delivered by business schools across the UK, with the support of experienced entrepreneurs and leading industry figures. Courses have been running at business schools across the UK since June.
How do I qualify for Help to Grow: Digital?
To qualify for the Help to Grow: Digital financial discount, businesses can be from any business sector, but must meet all four of the following criteria:
- Be a business based in the UK registered with Companies House or be a registered society on the Financial Conduct Authorities Mutuals Register
- Employ between 5 and 249 people
- Have been actively trading for over 12 months, and have an incorporation date of, at least, 365 days prior to application
- Be purchasing the approved software for the first time
How much is the Help to Grow: Digital discount worth?
Eligible businesses will receive one financial discount towards the purchase of one approved software product up to a maximum of £5,000 (not including VAT) for either customer relationship management and digital accounting software products.
The financial discount covers 12 months’ worth of approved software product core costs, exclusive of VAT.
Who offers CRM software?
Who offers accounting software?
Looking further ahead, the Government wants to extend Help to Grow: Digital to include software which helps businesses maximise online sales.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “I want UK businesses to be primed and ready to seize all the opportunities on the horizon as we build back better from the pandemic.
“Adopting technology means higher performance, and the Help to Grow: Digital scheme is future-proofing our small businesses and putting the UK at the forefront of the worldwide digital revolution.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak added: “Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and prosperity across the UK.
“When I announced this at Budget, I said we wanted to help businesses become more innovative, more competitive and more profitable and I am excited this programme allows them do that.
“Help to Grow: Digital will help them to grow and flourish by adopting new technologies that are proven to improve processes and boost productivity, levelling up their digital technology and skills.”