Business and Trade

Government backs SMEs with new Help to Grow campaign and small business council

The Government is today reaffirming its commitment to all the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses, with the creation of a new Small Business Council due to launch next month which will bring together SME leaders from across the country.

The Council builds on the Department’s existing support for SMEs and will provide a bespoke forum for small businesses to have their voices represented within Government.

Almost every business in the country is a small business (99.9%) who in turn support 27 million jobs across the UK, accounting for £4.5 trillion of annual turnover – which is why the government is making 2024 the year of the SME.

In addition to the formation of the Council, the Help to Grow campaign and website has also been refreshed to create a one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This will include helping small firms to clearly identify what funding they can access, webinars as well as the basics of setting up a business for the first time.

We know that for many people, starting a new business for the very first time can be a daunting process and that’s why the government’s refreshed website features a step-by-step guide with practical advice for people wanting to set up and grow their business in the UK.

The new site will bring together the support on offer from the government into one place, making it quicker and more convenient to find the resources business leaders and budding entrepreneurs need to succeed.

This support includes the new Help to Grow management courses as announced in the Autumn Statement. which go live today. The Help to Grow: Management scheme is an intensive 12-week programme to improve SME leadership and management skills. SMEs from all sectors are able to access the programme that is 90% subsidised by government. This has already supported nearly 8,000 businesses, with the ambition to support up to 30,000 over the programme’s lifetime.

To mark the refreshed campaign, the Prime Minister will host a panel event in Downing Street with small business leaders including, Tom Beahon of Castore, Tessa Clarke of Olio and Jordan Schwarzenberger of Arcade Media to discuss how to start and scale a successful business in the UK, leveraging talent, technology and the support already on offer.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: 

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local communities and drive the UK’s economy, supporting jobs and wages across the country.

“This new Council will mean SMEs have a clear voice at the table and we can deliver on the key needs for business.

“We are taking action to ensure that they have the support, tools and guidance they need to thrive – because when small businesses succeed, the UK succeeds.”

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: 

“I know first hand how important small businesses are, but I also understand some of the barriers they face to start up or grow their existing firm.

“Which is why I’m proud of the work we’re doing as government to really tackle some of the burning issues SMEs face on a daily basis – only then can we help boost jobs and grow the economy.”

Julianne Ponan MBE, Owner and CEO of Creative Nature:

“The Department of Business and Trade played a pivotal role in enabling our expansion into international markets. We now export our products to more than 18 countries globally. Through their support, we participated in trade exhibitions such as Gulfood under the Great British Pavilion, where we successfully generated significant business opportunities.

Additionally, accessing matching funds has empowered us, as a small business, to venture into new markets that would have otherwise been challenging for us to enter the market as a Top 14 Allergen Free Food brand.”

Jake Xu, Co-Founder of Shakeup Cosmetics:

“We have had support from DBT at various stages of our business. Even before we launched, DBT put us in touch with their representatives in different territories, through these conversations we gathered valuable market insights as well as figuring out our best route to market. We then received Internationalisation Grant from DBT for a trip to Asia which led us to securing our distribution partner.

Last year, through British Business Bank and DBT, we successfully secured a 6 figure loan to supercharge our growth. It provided the lifeline to our business and the cash we needed to fuel our ambitious plan going forward.”

Rushina Shah, Founder of Insane Grain

“I have received government support for my business including the small business grant fund which helped us survive during covid, SEIS relief for investors to make it easier to raise capital and R&D tax relief to allow us to continuously innovate. I would encourage other SMEs to explore the options available to them too.”

The Small Business Minister is also launching the Lilac Review jointly with small business Britain – a major new independent review determined to tackle and overcome the inequality faced by disabled business owners.

The government already has a strong record of backing British businesses – including by cutting taxes, removing barriers to growth and providing new opportunities with key trade deals, and improving access to finance. This includes through our export support service and UK Export Finance, which together are helping to get more small firms exporting around the world for the first time.

The single biggest way we’re backing businesses is by creating the economic conditions for them to thrive, which is why the government has worked hard to deliver on our priorities to halve inflation, grow the economy and cut debt. We’ve made significant progress and it’s clear the economy is turning a corner:

  • We’ve more than halved inflation from 11.1% to 4%; wages have risen faster than inflation for the past five months; and borrowing costs are starting to come down.
  • The economy has done better than predicted – since 2010, we have seen the third highest rate of growth in the G7, outpacing Italy, France, Japan and Germany. The OECD predict we will see lower inflation that the OECD average next year, and the IMF predict we will grow faster than Italy and Japan from 2025-28.
  • Debt is on track to fall as a share of the economy.

The government is also tackling a key issue affecting small firms – late payments. We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to do business, which is why Minister Hollinrake launched the Prompt Payment and Cash Flow Review in 2023. Since the report was unveiled, we are looking at how to prosecute large firms who persistently and knowingly fail to adhere to the Payment Practice Reporting Regulations.

The government is committed to supporting small firms right across the country, which is why the British Business Bank has supported over 90,000 SMEs and their start up loan scheme has issued more than £1 billion in loans. Our business rates package worth £4.3 billion over the next 5 years will help high streets. We’ve extended the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief for 230,000 businesses and frozen the small business multiplier for another year, which will save the average independent pub over £13,000.

We’ve frozen alcohol duty until August 1st 2024 and introducing Small Producer Relief effective to allow small businesses who produce alcoholic products with an ABV of less than 8.5% to be eligible for reduced rates of alcohol duty on qualifying products.

We will do everything we can to make the UK the best place to do business and Help to Grow provides the long-term support businesses in the UK need to deliver a brighter future for Britain and improve economic security and opportunity for everyone.

 

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