£30 million will be made available over two years. This will address a gap in the market for providing external business advice such as making a successful loan application to a bank or taking on an employee.
Back in September 2012 the British Chambers of Commerce were asking for £100m in vouchers of £5,000 per Business, open to up to 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses, but £30m is good start.
To test the approach, “a new marketplace for external business advice” will be created.
Advice could be focused on the following areas:
Legal, HR, accounting advice: As businesses expand, accounting and HR systems become more complex, and small businesses in particular can struggle to make sense of employment law and tax systems. Advice would help businesses understand these complex functions, allowing them to be more efficient, and focus on growth.
Access to finance advice: Smaller, younger, and high-growth businesses often have more difficulty accessing finance than more established firms, and some are unaware of the options available outside traditional debt finance. Advice could also address the problem of discouraged demand, and may result in more businesses obtaining finance to boost investment plans.
Marketing advice and training: Helping businesses with marketing their products and services here and importantly in overseas markets could lead to more sales, and growth opportunities for many firms.
Planning support: The complexity of the planning system means many businesses need to hire in external consultants at a high cost. The costs will often put firms off expansion, so offering companies free advice would help motivate businesses to grow and expand their premises.
Staff training: Workforce skills consistently rank among the top three concerns among Chamber members across the country. As businesses expand and develop their goods and services, increased staff training is often needed to help firms grow.
Export advice: Urgent action is needed to support the UK’s potential and current exporters to help rebalance the UK economy towards exports. Many businesses do not have the advice or skills they need to break into new markets. Export training and access to market intelligence and trade shows and missions, could help many businesses take the first step to exporting, and open new markets for current exporters.