The first I had heard about the government growth voucher scheme was last week following quite a bit of negative media attention – the scheme had reportedly only handed out £3.6 million of the £30 million available to help small and medium-sized enterprises, with just a few weeks left before it closes1. So yesterday I thought I would take a look and apply as it apparently takes minutes to do I felt I had nothing to lose. The government weren’t joking, straight after applying the fantastic news appeared on my screen that I’d been accepted for a £2,000 growth voucher! I’m thrilled to be able to use this to improve and expand at Natural HR and now I want to share some information on the scheme to help you, my valued customers in growing your businesses too.
Firstly, I think I should point out that whilst everyone seems to be referring to the vouchers as “£2,000 growth vouchers”, it is actually a £2,000 subsidy to pay up to half the cost of business advice. If accepted this means that if you want to utilise the full £2,000 you would have to match it, spending a total of £4,000 excluding VAT on business advice, then complete a claim form for the £2,000 subsidy.
The business advice has to be strategic advice on:
- “finance and cash flow
- recruiting and developing staff
- improving leadership and management skills
- marketing, attracting and keeping customers
- making the most of digital technology”2
After completing an initial application which collected information on myself and the business in terms of a number of employees, turnover, trading etc I received an email confirmation. I then completed a survey which asked questions on the above five areas in order to identify which area of advice would be most beneficial for my business. At the end of the survey came the answer that I’d been accepted, followed by another confirmation email. This email contained a link to the online marketplace from where a supplier can be chosen as well as the T&Cs and claim form.
The process is so quick you could do it in your lunch break so I would recommend taking a look at https://www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers to find out more about the scheme and see if your business meets the eligibility criteria. Applications close 31st March 2015 but according to my email,l I have 3 months in which to use and have paid for strategic business advice.
1 Allen, K. (2015) Government small business scheme hands out just £3.6m of the £30m budget [Online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/08/government-small-business-scheme-hands-out-just-36m-30m-budget?CMP=share_btn_tw (Accessed 12 March 2015).
2GOV.UK (2015) Growth Vouchers programme [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers (Accessed 12 March 2015).