Today, as part of what he termed an ‘honest and fair’ Budget to balance the public finances, the Chancellor announced a new £520m Help to Grow scheme that could support 130,000 small and medium sized businesses in boosting their productivity.
RSM welcomed the scheme that will provide access to management training, technology advice and discounted software to encourage more companies to adopt technology. However Chris Knowles, Chief Digital Officer at leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM has concerns that the success of the scheme is dependent on the government sticking to its earlier commitment of delivering 85 per cent fast broadband coverage to the UK.
Chris Knowles, CDO at RSM comments: ‘Today’s announcement of the Help to Grow scheme is well intended, and any government support for regional business to improve digital skills and productivity is to be welcomed. However, despite a number of infrastructure funding announcements there was no mention of the government’s previous stated commitment to invest £5bn in national broadband rollout by 2025. Back in December we learned that only part of this funding might be available and that the target date was probably unachievable. For businesses in all regions to take advantage of productivity-boosting cloud technology they must have access to fast broadband or reliable 5g.
‘Driving SME productivity is not just about management skills and digital awareness. It is about access to digital infrastructure, availability of technology skills in the market as well as access to investment financing. £520m of additional funding to support SME growth through management support, technology advice and software discounts is helpful, but we encourage the government to address all factors which contribute to SME growth and productivity.’