The UK Government has drastically expanded eligibility around its Help to Grow scheme — enabling up to 1.24 million UK businesses to receive sizable discounts on approved digital systems.
The business software scheme is a discount programme that offers eligible businesses a discount of up to 50% on certain software solutions up to a maximum cost of £5,000. Until the end of July, only businesses with more than five employees were eligible to receive this discount as part of the Help to Grow: Digital scheme.
Moving forward, the scheme now applies to any business with at least one employee. This represents a large jump in eligibility from 760,000 UK businesses to over a million businesses.
“Extending our Help to Grow: Digital scheme will enable thousands more SMEs to become more innovative, more competitive, and more profitable,” Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Alan Mak said.
“Helping them adopt new technology to support customers, manage accounts and sell online will save them time and money. This will boost productivity and help create jobs and prosperity across the UK.”
The Help to Grow: Management scheme
The UK Government’s Help to Grow: Digital scheme is part of its wider Help to Grow: Management scheme — which is the government’s programme to help small and medium-sized businesses scale-up and improve their odds of success.
The Help to Grow: Management scheme offers business owners up to 50 hours’ worth of leadership and management training across 12 weeks. As part of the scheme, the UK Government commits to cover as much as 90% of the costs involved.
This guide will help you determine your eligibility for the scheme and how it may apply to your business.
Is my business eligible to receive a discount from the Help to Grow: Digital scheme?
In addition to requiring at least one employee, there are several other eligibility requirements you’ve got to fulfil to qualify for government support.
First and foremost, your business must be based in the UK and either registered with Companies House or be a registered society on the Financial Conduct Authority’s ‘Mutuals Public Register’.
Next, you can’t have more than 249 employees, and you must have been actively trading for over 12 months (or have an incorporation date of at least 365 days before you apply for the scheme).
Finally, you must be purchasing one of the scheme’s approved software systems for the first time. That means if you already have some form of all of the approved software systems in place, you can’t apply to replace them with new ones.
How can my business benefit from the Help to Grow: Digital scheme?
As part of the scheme, business owners can receive discounts if they opt to invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, digital accounting software or e-commerce software.
A CRM is a business software system that enables businesses to store customer contact and order information in one central (and secure) location. By placing all of your customer and sales information on one platform, you’ll be able to streamline processes and make your business more efficient. According to UK Government research, implementing a CRM increases productivity by 18%.
By contrast, digital accounting software helps you to quickly perform vital financial functions. This ranges from raising invoices or tracking spend, to sharing information internally with teams. Research indicates integrating digital accounting software into your limited company’s systems increases sales by an average of 11.8% after three years.
E-commerce software encompasses a range of tools that can help you to sell your goods or services online. E-commerce tools can streamline inventory management or help you to create an online shop front. They can also help you support online payments and provide insights on customer needs and user experience.
“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,” said Murray Lambell, Vice President and General Manager of eBay UK.
“And given that three-quarters of our small businesses are based outside London and the South East, this also has the potential to boost the government’s Levelling Up agenda.”
That being said, it’s worth noting that the UK Government has said it plans on expanding the range of software on offer through the Help to Grow scheme.
At present, there are 30 software solutions available from 14 technology suppliers that have been approved as part of the scheme — meaning UK businesses can choose from a range of available options.
If you’re eligible, you can find out more about the scheme on the dedicated GOV.UK Help to Grow page.
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