One of the key parts of the Spring Budget 2021 was Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and his £520 million plan to help maximise their productivity and profitability. Sunak, who sees investing in SMEs as the way out of the pandemic-induced depression, believes his new Help to Grow scheme could benefit up to 130,000 small and medium-sized businesses across the country.
So, what is Help to Grow?
The Help to Grow scheme is a programme designed to offer SMEs access to expert management training, business mentors and investment, while also providing them with the ability to upgrade their digital offerings and software systems at subsidised prices. The scheme, which is still under development, currently has two tranches.
Help to Grow Management
Under the Help to Grow Management element of Help to Grow, businesses will have the opportunity to access some of the UK’s top business schools through a range of management training courses and online business seminars. Designed to run alongside full-time work, the courses are expected to be delivered in 12-week blocks, consisting of online learning, 1:1 support from a business mentor and an alumni network. 30,000 places are expected to be created over 3 years and the course will be 90% government subsidised.
Help to Grow Digital
Help to Grow Digital is an entirely free option, designed to encourage SMEs to create a competitive advantage using technology. It will consist of a free online advice platform open for all, while eligible businesses will be able to get a 50% discount on approved software (up to £5,000) to help them build customer relationships, manage accounts and finances digitally and increase sales online. Sunak has also committed an additional £126 million to create 40,000 additional traineeships in England, with cash incentives of £3,000 for employers who take an apprentice on.
How does this affect independent lettings or block management businesses?
The thousands of block management and lettings businesses that fall into the SME category could see huge rises in productivity by accessing these schemes. Offering staff management training as well as using the 50 hours of mentoring available to SME directors to network with business leaders could be an invaluable way to absorb relevant advice.
But the real value comes from the Help to Grow digital offering. More and more lettings and block management companies are discovering the need to digitise their processes. The right software can seamlessly integrate with other property management solutions, facilitate great customer service and enable compliance with regulations and the law.
Having the opportunity to improve digital solutions is one of the best ways to revitalise and rejuvenate a business, particularly one that’s been affected by a pandemic. While much of the detail in the package remains to be seen, offering SMEs these kinds of lifelines, if they’re managed properly, could make a huge difference.
With more details about Help to Grow expected to be released throughout 2021, please refer to gov.uk for your eligibility and to check the latest information.