Yesterday, Simon Clarke MP, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government announced £20 million in new grant funding to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across England recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
SMEs will be able to access grants between £1,000 - £5,000 to help them adopt new technologies, purchase necessary equipment, and access professional, legal, financial, and other advice services to help them get back on track.
techUK strongly supports these new grants and believe they should serve as a proof of concept for larger and more comprehensive programmes to drive digital adoption amongst SMEs in particular. In our 2020 Spring Budget submission, ‘Fast Forward’, techUK called for the introduction of a Digital Adoption Fund and the creation of a Digital Business Link programme.
The Digital Adoption Fund would encourage and enable SMEs and first-time adopters of digital technology to adopt these productivity-boosting digital services and technologies by providing grants and reliefs. This would include cloud services, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, and digital accountancy platforms and the relief would be time-limited to cover the initial adoption costs, staff training, and the first three years of a subscription to a service.
The Digital Business Link programme would provide tailored business support services for SMEs and first-time adopters of digital services and technologies. This would take the form of skilled programme managers who would engage in proactive outreach and educate business owners and purchasing managers on what digital solutions are available and what questions they should be asking. Firms would also be able to access the link through an online portal to connect with a sector-specific business manager, allowing businesses to access expertise at both the local and sector-specific levels.
It is welcome to see the Government taking steps in the right direction to help SMEs across the country kick start their economic recovery and vital digital transformation efforts.
You can read the Government’s press release announcing the new grants here.