Back in early March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the UK government’s Help to Grow programme in his Spring Budget. It’s designed to help business owners boost their skills, software and profits at a heavily subsidised cost. The £520 million programme will help 30,000 SMEs gain access to discounted software and digital advice, as well as management training.

Set to launch to SMEs next month, the details of the programme has now been ironed out and is open for registrations. There are two Help to Grow options – Management or Digital – to choose from. In this article we take a look at the basics of the Help to Grow programme, the finer details of Help to Grow: Management and Help to Grow: Digital as well who can apply and how to register.

The basics of Help to Grow

Help to Grow is about giving businesses the tools and insight they need to grow and develop. It’s designed as a way to boost small businesses and upskill the workforce. The Treasury has worked with business leaders and software companies to promote investment in skills and expertise for 30,000 small and medium sized businesses across the UK.

Levelling up productivity after the challenging year that businesses have faced is key to boosting the nation’s economic recovery, in the Chancellor’s eyes. The Help to Grow: Management programme allows businesses to learn new approaches to management that will support their strategies and employees. The Help to Grow: Digital programme gives unbiased software advice to help businesses that are behind in tech and offers 50% off software to help them level up.

Help to Grow: Management

The management side of Help to Grow focuses on executive training. It’s a 12-week programme (designed to be manageable around full-time work) that gives you key insights from leading UK business schools. There will be practical teaching along with 1:1 sessions with a business mentor, peer-learning and a network of other business leaders. Sessions are being run both online and in-person, so be sure to factor that in.

The programme is 90% funded by the government so you’ll pay just £750. It’s an amazing opportunity to gain knowledge and know-how to help you scale your business, giving you the tools you need to grow. Help to Grow: Management kicks off at the end of June and will run for 3 years with 30,000 places available during that time.

Key modules will cover innovation, financial management and taking advantage of digital opportunities. You’ll also boost your leadership skills, marketing opportunities, employee engagement and focus on responsible business.

One of the most exciting sides of the programme are the 1:1 sessions with the UK’s top business leaders offering tailored advice for executives. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced this week that individuals from NatWest, Goldman Sachs and the CBI are among the high-profile leaders offering their expertise. These mentors and your professors will help you develop a business plan to achieve growth and encourage your business to reach its full potential.

Help to Grow: Management courses are being offered at the following business schools:

  • Aston Business School - 28 June 2021 – West Midlands
  • Leeds Business School (Leeds Beckett University) – 14 September 2021 – Yorkshire & Humber
  • Coventry Business School – 23 August 2021 – West Midlands
  • University of Bradford School of Management – 21 September 2021 – Yorkshire & Humber
  • Derby Business School – 5 July 2021 – East Midlands
  • Bristol Business School (University of West of England) - 6 September 2021 – South West
  • Kingston Business School - 30 August 2021 – London
  • University of Leicester School of Business - 13 September 2021 - East Midlands

Help to Grow: Digital

If you’re looking to specifically improve the tech your business uses then the digital programme could be a great opportunity. First you get free impartial advice on what technology and software could make an impact on your business. This is a great way to find out if there’s a new online platform or programme that could give your business the boost it needs to take on the next phase of recovery.

On top of that advice, you can get up to 50% off the costs of approved software (up to £5,000). This will be organised through a voucher scheme and is focused on helping businesses to improve online sales, build customer relationships and boost sales figures generally. It’s also valid to help with digital accounts and financial management, which with Making Tax Digital expanding, is crucial for all businesses.

Who can apply for the Help to Grow programme?

Help to Grow: Management

If you want some strategic help then the management programme could be the perfect tool. UK businesses in any sector can apply as long as they’ve been operating for at least a year and have between 5 and 249 employees. Charities aren’t eligible, unfortunately.

The programme is open to a decision maker or senior management from within your business. For example, the CEO or Financial Director.

Help to Grow: Digital

Any UK-registered business that has between 2 and 249 employees and has been trading for at least a year can apply for the Help to Grow digital voucher. You can only use it on software you haven’t purchased in the past.

How to register for Help to Grow

If any of the above sounds like something your business could benefit from then you should register your interest now. You’ll have to apply with a specific business school for the Management programme, so take a look at the different options.

Help to Grow: Management – smallbusinesscharter.org/help-to-grow-management Help to Grow: Digital – register-help-to-grow-scheme.service.gov.uk

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