At the end of July, the government released details of its latest grant scheme to help struggling small and medium-sized businesses in England. The Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government announced £20 million of new funding to help SMEs across England.
WHAT IS A GROWTH HUB SUPPORT GRANT?
Grants will typically be worth between £1,000 - £3,000 each but some businesses may qualify for up to £5,000. They’ve been introduced to help businesses ‘adapt, recover and rebuild’ after the difficulty many have felt over the past few months. Last year there were 5.9 million private sector businesses in the UK, of which SMEs made up over 99%. If you have fewer than 250 employees then you’re entitled to this support.
The only caveat is that the money is only available to be used as a response to the impact of COVID-19. The grant is there to help businesses adapt, diversify and strengthen their operations as a result of the pandemic. The money can go towards purchasing new equipment and technology to help businesses continue delivering their services or products, or to seek specialist professional advice. This could be legal, financial or any other kind of business expertise that may help them successfully navigate the changes they’re making in this period.
HOW CAN I GET A GROWTH HUB SUPPORT GRANT?
The grants will be distributed through Growth Hubs for local areas in England and will be awarded by 28 February 2021. Each area has at least £250,000 allocated to it to make sure the support is spread across the country, and the government will review the amount of demand in three months.
The focus of Growth Hubs is for business support to be simpler and easier to access across the country. Any business that wants to take advantage of this scheme should locate and contact their local Growth Hub, which are all listed individually on the Local Enterprise Partnerships website.
If you’re not aware of Growth Hubs, they were initially launched in 2014 and completed two years later to aid reinvestment in small businesses across the entire country. Business Minister at the time, Anna Soubry, emphasised that small businesses are ‘the beating heart of our economy’ and it’s great to see further support available to them.
HOW SHOULD I SPEND A GROWTH HUB SUPPORT GRANT?
If you’re interested in receiving the grant you may be wondering what to do with the cash. If you’ve been desperately missing a particular piece of equipment and unable to afford a replacement, that’s an obvious place to start. However, one of the most useful places for your money to go towards in our opinion is an accountant. Why? Your financial advisor can play a critical role in the success of your business.
Being in control of the numbers has never been more important. The way people accessed your goods or services most likely changed during lockdown. The pandemic’s effects on business, especially on supply chains, operations and demand levels will continue for some time to come. What’s more, many of these changes and nuances in behaviour look likely to stay, but it’s difficult to say with any certainty exactly what business owners should expect. These unknowns mean that expert advice is critical when it comes to your business finances and guiding you through.
With so much data available, accountants are working for their clients to make sense of it all and offer them informed advice. This can help recognise and minimise risk to cash flow and productivity, target necessary investment and help you work out where to diversify to new products of markets. Crucially, they can be supremely helpful in focusing on a business’s cash management and liquidity while you keep your energy concentrated on running your business.
Many businesses are moving on now from a survival phase towards working out how to build and thrive. Modelling demand and cash flow cycles is something every business needs to look into to secure their future, and that’s a lot easier left to an accountant. With 87% of SMEs reporting being negatively affected by COVID-19, and 6 in 10 expected reduced or no turnover, having an expert’s help couldn’t come at a more important time.
Businesses can get ahead now by using their financial advisors to help them exploit future opportunities. And if the government can give you the funds to hire somebody to help you do just that, you’re in a good position to come out of this experience stronger than ever.