Let’s lend SMEs a helping hand

Let’s lend SMEs a helping hand

When it comes to giving businesses the confidence to take risks and grow, private enterprises and governments need to find more ways to connect SMEs to the information and technology they need to thrive.

Accounting for 99.9% of the UK’s business population (5.6 million businesses), SMEs have disproportionately suffered from a bruising few years. COVID-19 restrictions coupled with the post-Brexit supply chain disruption and staff shortages have forced many to borrow to the hilt. Vital to the success of the UK economy, they must be supported and encouraged to grow over the coming months and years. Technology is a great enabler to support that growth, but access to great software can be expensive. 

The government’s ‘Help to Grow’ scheme, which includes a discount of up to 50% off approved software worth up to £5,000, is a good start. Government backed programmes are vital to the UK’s economy. However, at the pace businesses need support today, ‘Help to Grow’ is not enough as it is limited only to certain software solutions.

There is more that must be done for SME leaders to feel confident in their prospects and access to the technology and information they need to grow. If these schemes are not in line with their needs, then the UK’s future economy will lose momentum and risks grinding to a halt altogether. 

Our recent research found 79% SMEs are not aware of the scheme. Among those who are, less than half (49%) don’t know what level of support is available and one in 10 have concerns about the scheme providing relevant support. 

The same study, commissioned in collaboration with YouGov, also found that 61% of SMEs feel large PLC companies could do more to support them in upgrading and modernising their technological capabilities. Sentiments like this underline the toll the pandemic has taken on British SMEs, and it’s clear more needs to be done to support these critical businesses at this significant stage in our economic recovery.

While government initiatives are vital to economic recovery and growth, private enterprise leaders must do more to make a difference in supporting their own SME network. 

Elona Mortimer
Elona Mortimer

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