£30m Growth Vouchers: register now

January 24, 2014 6:23 pm

Enterprise Nation

In the 2013 budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced the introduction of £30m worth of Growth Vouchers for small businesses. The Growth Vouchers programme will deliver subsidies to help businesses access the advice they need to help them grow, and will be available for free to small businesses at the end of January.

The majority of small businesses that participate in the programme will be allocated vouchers and the funds are to be spent on strategic advice from suppliers in the private sector. It will make it much easier for businesses to find providers of strategic advice on key topics such as financial management, recruitment, leadership skills, sales and marketing and digital technology. Stopford Associates have registered as an organisation to provide support.

Who can apply?

Any business based in England with less than 10 employees can apply for the vouchers.

How does it work?

Although the Growth Vouchers scheme is still at a very early stage, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills have made it clear that:

  • The scheme will run until the end of March 2015
  • Funding will be split over two years, £10m in year one and £20m in year two
  • Funding between £100 and £2,000 will be made available
  • Advice may be face-to-face, telephone based, online or a combination
  • Vouchers will be allocated randomly
  • Vouchers will cover 50% towards the cost of obtaining advice

It is widely accepted that appropriate use of external advice is beneficial to business performance; with firms that seek external advice more likely to grow than those that don’t. Small firms can often be deterred from seeking advice because:

  • They don’t know what is available
  • It is difficult to know how advice would benefit them
  • They can’t compare offer and price

The Growth Vouchers scheme aims to address a gap in the market for providing external business advice such as making a successful loan application to a bank or taking on an employee.

Enterprise Nation has been selected by the Government to build, market and administer the online marketplace for the Growth Vouchers scheme. The marketplace will connect small businesses with business experts. The scheme officially launches on 27 January, but it is now open for registration either as a business looking for advice or a business providing the support. Register now.

The Government will match your spend up to a maximum value of £2,000. This means you can spend as much or as little as you want on the advice but the maximum contribution from the Government will be £2,000. For example:

  • You spend £1,200 on support: £600 from you and £600 matched from government
  • You spend £4,000 on support: £2,000 from you and £2,000 from government
  • You spend £5,500 on support: £3,500 from you and £2,000 from government

What can the vouchers be spent on?

Growth Vouchers can be used to obtain strategic advice on any of the following categories:

  • Managing cash flow, late payments and negotiating finance
  • Developing skills and taking on staff
  • Improving Leadership and Management
  • Marketing, attracting and keeping customers
  • Making the most of digital technology

How can I get a Growth Voucher?

From the launch date of the programme, you will be able to apply on a government website. If you meet the criteria, you will then be guided through a diagnostic filter which will help you assess your business needs. The process will be done either online or through a face to face meeting with an adviser. After this, you will be notified if you have received a voucher. With a voucher in hand, you then visit the Enterprise Nation Marketplace and find a supplier/advisor with whom you can spend your voucher. Suppliers are members of Founding Trade & Professional Bodies so the quality of advice they offer is assured.

To find out more visit the Marketplace at Enterprise Nation.

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