Growth vouchers now up for grabs

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Robert Lovell
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The government has launched its latest initiative to support small firms by offering subsidised business support in the form of Growth Vouchers.

As announced in the 2013 Budget the £30m scheme, first suggested by the British Chambers of Commerce and championed by Lord Young, is offering 20,000 small businesses a 50% subsidy up to £2,000 towards the cost of obtaining advice from accredited advisers.

The new ‘Yellow Pages’ style programme will match business leaders with mentors to help them grow through a marketplace-style website, powered by small business network Enterprise Nation, on the following topics:

  • finance and cash flow
  • recruiting and developing staff
  • improving leadership and management skills
  • marketing, attracting and keeping customers
  • making the most of digital technology

The scheme has identified members of the following professional bodies as eligible to apply: BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, CIPD, BIMA, ICAEW, ACCA, CIM (Marketing) and the Chartered Management Institute.

Clive Lewis, ICAEW head of enterprise, said...

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28th Jan 2014 09:04

These initiatives are all very well ...

But invariably anything subsidised by the Government attracts a premium by the supplier - so all the Government does is encourage a price hike to take account of the subsidy

One only has to look at the alternative energy market or trying to install solar, heat pumps etc. The authorised supplier hikes the price by a couple of thousand to accommodate the grant

This was one of the concerns with the recent help to buy

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28th Jan 2014 11:54

Missing a trick

JC I don't see this as comparable to the renewable energy incentives provided.  In those cases it was more often than not a one off transaction with no real opportunity for repeat business.  Under those circumstances it obviously made sense for them to maximise profit on the sale.

However when talking about subsidising professional service advice I think anyone who puts a premium on their service because of the grant aid is missing a trick.  It represents a fantastic opportunity to showcase their ability to provide added value services and build a lasting relationship with potential repeat business which may far outweigh the maximum £2,000 grant.  The further you can make that grant money go the happier the client will be.

It's a shame that the grant is only available to businesses in England, hopefully other devolved governments will come up with similar schemes.


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28th Jan 2014 12:56

When used responsibly ...

... any help to small business is welcome.  However, I remember the grants given by Business Link to help new business with business plans, forecasting, etc., but the grant was too tempting for some accountants who persuaded anyone & everyone possible to apply, even where it was a total waste of money, as the grant inevitably ended up in the accountants pocket.

Limiting the subsidy to 50% may help avert this, as the small business is less likely to 'do the accountant a favour' if they have to fork out 50% themselves, although I can see this being abused too, by the accountant billing, and then crediting, the 50%.

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30th Jan 2014 18:46

You can't get vouchers for any prospect or client

Unlike the "train  to gain" vouchers you mention ShirleyM, you are not allowed to mention the growth vouchers to your customers or potential customers and then ask them to spend them with you.


If you read the detail on the growth vouchers there are two major points:


1. The small business must voluntarily apply for the growth vouchers themselves and are not allowed to spend them with any organisation that they have previously discussed the scheme with before getting them.  How this will be monitored though, I have no idea :-)


2. It is a lottery ticket. For the first year there is only £10m available (£20m in the second year) and smes must apply and then the government will select the lucky winners of the growth vouchers. There is a criteria list of who can apply, but the government will choose who gets them from those who have correctly applied. There is no information about how the government are going to decide who gets them, when many will fit the criteria published.

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31st Jan 2014 07:34

Thanks, NewACA

Different to the previous grants, then. Let's hope the controls work and the money goes where it will do the most good.

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