Posted: Mon 25th Jul 2022
Businesses with only one employee can now take part in the government's scheme providing discounted digital software.
Help to Grow: Digital was previously open to UK businesses registered at Companies House with between five and 249 employees. Eligibility has now been widened to one staff member (who isn't the business owner) as the minimum requirement.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the change increases the number of eligible businesses by 760,000 to 1.24m.
Originally announced by former chancellor Rishi Sunak in the March 2021 Budget, the scheme aims to improve business productivity and growth.
Businesses can get 50% off software they are buying for the first time, up to a maximum cost of £5,000. Ecommerce solutions have today been added to the software available, which also includes accounting and customer relationship management products.
Later this year, Help to Grow: Digital will also provide small business owners with one-to-one advice from experts on how they can best adopt digital technology. It will include a voucher for SMEs to access a 50% discount on digital advice.
Business minister Lord Callanan said:
"Boosting productivity isn't some abstract concept to be sniffed at – for individual SMEs it means bigger sales and breaking into new markets. It can add £100 billion to the British economy overall, creating jobs and opportunity across the country.
"Adopting the latest technology is proven to help businesses make the most of their potential, and by making more than one million firms eligible for the scheme, we’re helping to level up the UK economy and bolster the ability of our businesses to compete with the best worldwide."
Enterprise Nation has previously called for the scheme to be extended to enable more businesses to benefit.
We asked for it in a report in March 2022 ahead of the government's Spring Statement and also in a November 2021 study with Dropbox on the benefits of digital technology.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said:
"This is a great announcement from government and shows the business department has listened to the feedback offered from small business groups and businesses themselves who wanted the scheme eligibility widened. Doing so will bring digital tools and techniques to a much wider audience of small businesses at a time they need it most.
"We are also delighted with the move to open up vouchers so a portion of the budget can be spent on digital advice. We genuinely believe that digital tools are more likely to be deployed within a business if the purchase of that tool is served with advice on how to make the most of it.
"We look forward to working with government to see Help to Grow truly embraced by small businesses."
The government also runs Help to Grow: Management, the eligibility for which remains as businesses with between five and 249 employees.
It includes a 90% government funded 12-week management course. From August, participating businesses will be matched with a voluntary mentor to help them develop a growth action plan.
Enterprise Nation is one of three small business support providers delivering the mentoring element.
Business owners and experts can sign up to be a voluntary mentor here.