Govt. expands ‘help to grow: digital’ scheme

Over a million more businesses are now eligible for the ‘help to grow: digital scheme', which has also been expanded to include additional services.

Launched in January this year, the scheme was established to help small to medium-sized businesses purchase software and digital technologies so they could grow.

Eligible businesses can get up to 50% off approved technologies, worth up to £5,000 in related costs under the scheme.

Previously, only businesses with more than five employees were eligible for the programme, but businesses with 1 to 249 employees can now access the discounts.

Alan Mak, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said:

"Extending our help to grow: digital scheme will enable thousands more SMEs to become more innovative, competitive, and profitable."

What does help to grow: digital offer?

Under the help to grow scheme, businesses can claim discounts to purchase customer relationship management (CRM) software more easily, which the Government said boosts productivity by an average of 18%.

As part of its expansion to the smallest of businesses, eCommerce software is now also available through the scheme to "help businesses ramp up sales of products and services online".

Using eCommerce software, businesses can more easily manage their inventory, take payments, and gather data and insights on customers' needs.

According to the Enterprise Research Centre, businesses that adopt eCommerce software see an average 7.5% increase in employee sales over three years.

Through help to grow: digital, businesses can access discounts on 30 software solutions from 13 leading technology suppliers for eCommerce, digital and CRM software.

Help to grow: digital now also includes advice on the latest digital technologies, how to use them and how to decide on which may best serve a business.

Eligible businesses also have access to case studies on businesses that have adopted new software and how it's worked for them.

The Government launched applications for advice platforms to partner with the scheme in July, while the advice service will go live later this year.

Help to grow is being delivered in partnership with Small Business Charter, and courses are running at business schools across the country.

After a business decides on the software they wish to use, they will have 30 days to apply for the Government discount from the date of issue. Anything after the 30 days will require re-registering.

Industry reactions

The decision to include the very smallest business has been a welcome decision, with hopes that it will lead to more money being pumped back into the economy.

Murray Lambell, vice president and general manager of eBay UK, said:

"This is extremely welcome news for a significant number of the 300,000 small businesses who use eBay every day to grow their business.

"Being able to purchase e-commerce and other productivity-enhancing software at a discount could really help give rocket boosters to what are already fast-growing businesses."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said lowering the threshold will help SMEs grow and build the economy.

The national chair for the FSB, Martin McTague, said:

"Reducing the threshold to one employee makes a difference in this space.

"Together with ecommerce software and one-to-one advice for SMEs on technology adoption, this will enable more small businesses to fulfil their growth ambitions."

Other Government schemes for businesses

Help to grow: digital isn't the only development scheme out there for smaller businesses, with a few more initiatives set up to help boost business productivity.

For instance, the Innovate UK smart grants programme offers funding for businesses with"game-changing innovative and disruptive" ideas and projects.

The seed enterprise investment scheme and the enterprise investment scheme, meanwhile, provide financial support for startups and established businesses, respectively.

There is also the help to grow: management course, which gives businesses access to 12 weeks of learning and a business mentor.

With one session a week, the management course is designed to fit around business owners' existing work and personal commitments.

The scheme is 90% funded by the Government, so participants only have to pay £750 to join.

Ask us about your eligibility for help to grow: digital.