The Government has announced several new schemes aimed at helping small businesses in all sectors and areas across the country grow successfully and take on additional staff.
Coming under the headline of ‘Small Business: GREAT Ambition’, the package of new measures includes:
1. Broadband vouchers worth up to £3,000 for fledgling businesses in 22 cities across the UK
2. Deals designed to make energy costs and switches easier to understand and carry out
3. Access to £230 billion of public sector contracts which have previously been off-limits to all but the bigger employers
The measures are aimed at removing some of the barriers small businesses face, as well as improving the working environment for all businesses, and making it easier for them to succeed.
The key measures are:
· Broadband vouchers – small businesses in 22 cities across the UK will be able to apply for up to £3,000 each from a £100 million pot, to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband, which in turn means they can offer customers faster services and increased reliability.
· A fairer deal on energy – an agreement has been reached with the major energy firms to end auto-rollovers for business customers and limit back billing, as well as increasing transparency of contract terms and making switching providers easier
· In the wake of Lord Young’s recommendations in 2013 that it should be made easier and simpler for small businesses to bid on public sector work, access to £230 billion of contracts will be opened up
· Tackling the problem of late payment to small firms by the public sector. The government has committed to paying small businesses in the supply chain, in the public sector, at the same time as the bigger contractors, whilst also consulting on new measures to tackle the problem in the private sector.
The broadband connection voucher scheme is already available in
Belfast, Salford, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Derby, Bristol, Edinburgh, Newport, London and Manchester.
From early 2014, businesses in Aberdeen,Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Coventry, Derry/Londonderry, Leeds,
Newcastle, Oxford, Perth and York will also be able to take advantage of the scheme.
Alongside these measures, small businesses may also be able to
benefit from an additional £250m which has been made available to the British Business Bank to improve access to finance through measures such as challenger banks, angel investors or crowd funding. This is in addition to £160m made available to extend the Start Up Loans scheme after its initial success.