Last reviewed 5 April 2021

In the 2021 Budget the government introduced two “Help to Grow” schemes to aid SMEs develop their businesses. These are Help to Grow: Management and Help to Grow: Digital. In this article we look at the details of the schemes.

Help to Grow: Management

This is a management training scheme for SMEs. The government will subsidise 90% of the cost of management training for 30,000 SMEs over three years, giving a cost to the business of £750. Eligible businesses must have been running for more than a year and have between 5 to 249 employees.

The content will include practical case studies and one-to-one mentoring from an experienced professional. There are eight online 2 hour sessions and four interactive case study workshops. This gives up to 50 hours of management training provided by business schools over twelve weeks. There will be a focus on:

  • Technology improvements;

  • Improving value propositions, management and strategic capability;

  • Growth planning;

  • Resilience to business shocks;

  • Innovation; and

  • Improving employee engagement.

Additional benefits are the peer group networking to share experiences plus access to an alumni network with business speakers, business clinics and networking events. The course is aimed at decision makers and senior management within a business. These courses will start in June 2021 and will be provided by university business schools throughout the UK.

A business can register interest in the scheme at https://smallbusinesscharter.org/h2gm-registration/.

Help to Grow: Digital

This scheme is to help businesses use computer software to improve their business. The government will provide a voucher for 50% of the cost of approved software, up to a maximum of £5,000. The software will be to enable the business to:

  • Build customer relationships and sales;

  • Assist in online sales; and

  • Manage accounts and finances digitally.

Free advice will also be provided through an online platform.

Eligible businesses must have been running for more than a year, have between 5 to 249 employees and are purchasing the discounted software for the first time. Further details on eligibility and the available software will be made available in the summer of 2021.

A company can register its interest in the scheme at https://register-help-to-grow-scheme.service.gov.uk/.

Recruitment and apprentices

The Government is also making changes to help businesses to recruit and take on apprentices.

New apprentices of any age can be taken on and the government incentive payment will double to £3,000. The government will also make available £7 million for new ‘flexi-job’ apprentices that enable apprentices to work with several employers in a business sector. This is to enable apprentices that need to work for multiple projects to benefit from quality, long-term training.

In addition, there are plans to change the visa requirements to permit recruitment of overseas staff in the science, technology and innovation fields.