Ouch! BIS small business scheme gives out just £3.6m of the £30m budget

The government has given out less than 4% of its £30m budget, aimed at helping small businesses access business advice – it has been revealed by the Guardian.

The Growth Vouchers programme was launched in January 2014 and available to small businesses (fewer than 250 employees) only.

Businesses can apply for a £1,000 voucher, which they must then match with £1,000 of their own fund, before using the vouchers to access “strategic business 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

Once a business applies for a £1,000 voucher, it is not guaranteed it will receive it, but left to a randomised selection process.

However, with just a few weeks left before the programme closes on 31st March, only £3.6m worth of vouchers have been given out. According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 2,132 growth vouchers have been issued, while many businesses that have been successful in application haven’t redeemed their vouchers – presumably because they’ve been unable to match the £1,000 funding.

BIS told the Guardian: “There are still 5,694 vouchers in businesses’ possession worth £11m that are yet to be spent and we will continue to distribute vouchers through to the end of March when the programme officially closes.

“More than 12,000 growth vouchers have been issued since the initiative launched in January 2014.

“Evidence gathered from this demand-led research programme will help us develop better business support schemes in the future as well as helping businesses decide what type of advice they need to grow.”

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