The programme, which was announced this week by Enterprise adviser to the Prime Minister Lord Young, will provide Growth Vouchers which pay for advice on areas such as finance and cashflow, recruiting and developing staff, improving leadership and making the most of digital technology.
Only businesses which have been running for a year and have fewer than 50 employees may apply and the vouchers, which are worth up to £2,000, must be matched funded by the business itself.
Successful applicants will be chosen at random by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office's Behavioural Insights team. The impact of the business advice will then be measured over the coming year.
The scheme will be accessible online through a marketplace set up by small businesses network Enterprise Nation. Through this, business owners will be able to select the right adviser to address their specific issues. Small businesses pay the supplier direct and then claim back up to £2,000 from the government.
While the principle of contributing towards the development of small businesses will be welcomed by the sector, Gillian Hayward, who owns Oakwood Acorns in Leeds, believes that its success could be determined by businesses’ ability to match fund.
‘There are also the questions of how specific and relevant the training is to individual sectors and the quality of the Growth Voucher advisers,’ she said.
‘For the childcare sector, I wonder whether a significant influence on take-up will be how many existing and respected training providers are full members of one of the trade or professional bodies approved by the scheme.’
Applications can be made here