Government opens up SME digital support programme for suppliers

Help to Grow: Digital scheme aims to help small businesses access productivity-enhancing software, and suppliers are now encouraged to register as approved suppliers

The government has launched its Help to Grow: Digital support scheme for firms interested in becoming approved suppliers.

The scheme, first announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in the March 2021 Budget, aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access digital software to help improve their businesses.

It will open to businesses later in 2021, but the first phase of the scheme is now open for suppliers within e-commerce, accountancy and customer relationship management that want to become approved suppliers.

Business minister Lord Callanan said the government has backed businesses throughout the pandemic “and is now looking to build for the future, levelling up firms of every size and shape in every part of the UK”.

He added: “Tech is fundamental to our vision of a dynamic and revitalised economy and I would like to invite IT providers to seize this fantastic opportunity to support UK SMEs with their high-quality software and help us turbocharge UK small businesses.”

When the scheme was first announced, Sunak said the aim was to support 100,000 SMEs become more productive and profitable by adopting productivity-enhancing software that improves the way they operate. Also, the government will fund up to £5,000, covering up to 50% of the cost of the software.

The scheme, which is available to SMEs that have been trading for more than 12 months and employ between five and 249 people, will run for three years. It will have a phased approach, including several waves. Each wave of the programme will provide the opportunity to deploy  new technologies and functionalities for SMEs and suppliers.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: “Ensuring small businesses can use the latest technology to cut costs and save time is critical to building a tech-savvy nation. This government is funding the Help to Grow: Digital scheme to level the playing field for small businesses, so they can improve their tech capability and help reap all the benefits of modern technology.” 

Software suppliers interested in joining the scheme must have been trading for at least 12 months, demonstrate cyber security compliance and have a General Data Protection Regulation policy in place, as well as having an existing UK SME customer base.

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