Tuesday 2 March 2021 6:14 am

Budget 2021: Sunak to announce £520m scheme to provide training for SMEs

Rishi Sunak will announce a £520m scheme in Wednesday’s Budget to help provide MBA-style management training to up to 130,0000 British small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The new Help to Grow scheme will see the government pay UK business schools to provide 50 hours of free tuition to SMEs over twelve weeks, with with one-to-one support also offered from a “business mentor”.

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The government will also create an online platform to offer free advice on technology that will “help businesses to save time, reduce costs, and reach more customers”, according to the Treasury.

The final part of the scheme will see eligible businesses given vouchers to get up to 50 per cent off new “productivity enhancing software”, up to £5,000 each.

It comes after Sunak announced on the weekend that businesses forced to close in the latest lockdown will be eligible for grants of up to £18,000 as a part of a new £5bn fund.

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“Our brilliant SMEs are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and generating prosperity – so it’s vital they can access the tools they need to succeed,” Sunak said.

“Help to Grow will ensure they are embracing the latest technology and management training, fuelling our Plan for Jobs by boosting productivity in all corners of the UK.”

Federation of Small Businesses chief Mike Cherry said the scheme would help improve productivity growth rates, which have been among the lowest among G7 countries since the 2008 crash.

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“We have argued that the UK’s productivity challenge needed practical changes to help small businesses to improve their operations and drive efficiency and growth,” Cherry said.

“This means more of a ‘new-to-firm’ approach for innovation, such as helping small businesses access things such as the cloud where currently less than half (40 per cent) use cloud services.”