The Government has got behind small businesses in a bid to kickstart the economy. The Prime Minister has said small businesses are “essential for building a resilient, sustainable economy and a central part of my long-term economic plan for Britain”. So what public help is available to small businesses?

Financial help

The government has pledged to spend £100 million on faster broadband internet connections for small businesses, as well as capping increases in UK business rate rises, which are among the highest in the world.

The government says it is investing an extra £250 million in the British Business Bank – a state-funded lender to provide capital to businesses. Part of its plan is to guarantee bank loans made by high street lenders to small businesses, in a bid to persuade them to make loans to SMEs.

Jobs tax cut

The government is abolishing the employer National Insurance on people under the age of 21, to make it cheaper for businesses to employ young people. Businesses are also be eligible for the Employment Allowance, which will cut their National Insurance contributions by £2,000.

Apprenticeships

The government plans to increase the number of apprentices and has introduced policies to try to encourage businesses to take on more of them. There are apprenticeships covering 170 industries and 1,500 job roles, including accountancy.

The government will pay all course fees for apprentices aged 16-19 and 50% of fees for 19-23 year olds. Small businesses might also be able to get a £1,500 grant from the National Apprenticeship Scheme for each one they hire. More details are available on www.apprentices.org.uk.

Help to grow

The government has created a £30 million Growth Vouchers programme to encourage more small businesses to get specialist help from experts to help them grow. Government research shows that few small firms hire external consultants, even though those firms that get external advice grow faster.

Growth Vouchers offer help on issues including: raising finance and managing cash flow; recruiting and training staff; improving leadership and management skills; marketing; attracting and keeping customers; making the most of digital technology. Information on what’s on offer, and how to claim can be found on Gov.uk.

There are plenty of grants available to small businesses, providing money to help firms to start up, as well as loans to grow, take on new staff and start exporting, and to get advice and mentoring.

Grants can be very handy to provide extra capital for your business, but you need a good business plan to convince those in charge to give you their money. A list of the government-funded grants on offer throughout the country is available at Gov.uk’s business support section.

The government has made available £40 million for Smart grants for small businesses to invest in research and development. They are available to pre-start-ups, start-ups, and micro and small businesses to address the funding gap for ambitious businesses with innovative ideas. More information is available at Innovate UK.