The Help to Grow: Digital scheme has opened for applications, providing small businesses with discounts of up to £5,000 on approved software as well as advice on digital skills.
The new Help to Grow: Digital scheme offers eligible small businesses discounts of up to £5,000 off the retail price of approved digital accounting and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software from leading technology suppliers.
According to data from the Enterprise Research Centre, businesses that use CRM systems see on average an 18% boost to their productivity and those that adopt digital accounting software see a 12% increase in sales over three years.
The approved suppliers in the first wave of Help to Grow: Digital are:
- CRM: Capsule CRM, Zymplify, Livepoint, Gold-Vision CRM and Deskpro.
- Digital accounting: Sage, Intuit and Crunch.
Eligible businesses will receive one financial discount towards the purchase of one approved software product up to a maximum of £5,000 (not including VAT) in either CRM and digital accounting. The government is also looking to bring on further products under the scheme, including ecommerce software to help firms maximise their sales online.
To be eligible, small firms must have between five and 249 employees and the business must be purchasing the approved software for the first time. Eligible firms must have a registered office in the UK and be registered at Companies House. They must have been actively trading for over 12 months and have an incorporation date of, at minimum, 365 days prior to the date of application.
Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak said: "When I announced this at Budget I said we wanted to help businesses become more innovative, more competitive and more profitable and I am excited this programme allows them do that. Help to Grow: Digital will help them to grow and flourish by adopting new technologies that are proven to improve processes and boost productivity, levelling up their digital technology and skills."
The scheme has been welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). National chair Mike Cherry said: "We're encouraging as many eligible small firms to apply and make the most of this new scheme. Small businesses are often keen to embrace new technologies, but we know that one in four lack confidence in their own basic digital skills … Our own research has shown that just 40% of small business owners have used applications like cloud services and online data storage or back-up. It's crucial that practical changes like this scheme are put in place to help small firms adopt digital technologies, making improvements to their own business and driving growth."
Under the scheme, businesses can also access practical, specialised support and advice on how to choose the right digital technologies to boost their growth and productivity through a new online platform.
Welcoming the scheme, Paul Struthers, UK&I managing director of Sage, expressed his hopes that Help to Grow: Digital will be expanded to reach more businesses. "As the scheme rolls out over the next three years, we encourage the government to allow more flexibility in the number of products available, and widen the scope to allow sole traders and the smallest of businesses to benefit from digitisation too."
Written by Rachel Miller.