The government is to expand the Help to Grow: Digital scheme so that more businesses will be eligible for support and guidance.
The idea behind Help to Grow: Digital is to support businesses to increase productivity. But when the scheme was launched earlier this year, it was only open to businesses with five or more employees. This limited both the scope and effectiveness of the scheme.
However, the government has now extended Help to Grow: Digital to allow businesses with at least one employee (up to 249 employees) to benefit. According to the government, this means that a further 760,000 businesses will now be eligible which means that some 1.24 million can access the scheme.
So what does Help to Grow: Digital do?
It provides discounts on certain types of software as well as providing a one-to-one advice service for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on how to adopt and use digital technology.
Businesses can now access a £5,000 discount on 30 software solutions from 14 leading technology suppliers for eCommerce, Digital Accounting and CRM software. According to the Enterprise Research Centre, businesses that adopt eCommerce software see a 7.5% increase in employee sales over three years.
How important is this development?
It’s certainly an improvement from the original scheme. By extending the scope of Help to Grow: Digital it allows more businesses to benefit and exploit the huge advantages of digital technology.
However, it does raise one important issue, that of the provision of digital skills. The CLA has been pushing government and the telecoms hard to ensure that the provision of digital skills is wider than it is at present and that businesses are aware of where they can access digital skills training. The discounts offered by Help to Grow: Digital are to be welcomed, but if a business is not able to fully use innovative software due to a lack of digital skills, the actual business benefits will be limited.