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SMEs plea for more financial help from government

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK fear they could go under without further government help, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by UK software giant IRIS.

One in five SMEs surveyed want the government to reintroduce the furlough scheme (or similar) and make more grants available. And 61% also feel large PLC companies could be doing more to help them.

Over a third (34%) of SMEs would like to see more government and private sector funding to support investment in upgrading their technological capabilities, with 41% wanting to do so within the next six to 12 months.

Mentoring (10%) and easier access to business software (8%) also feature on SME’s list of unmet needs.

Seeking to alleviate these problems, the government recently launched its ‘Help to Grow’ initiative, which consists of two programmes: an MBA-style management training course for SME leaders, and a discount of up to 50% towards the costs of buying approved software, worth up to £5,000.

8 in 10 SMEs unaware of ‘Help to Grow’ scheme

However, 79% of SMEs are not aware of the scheme, and among those who are, 49% don’t know what level of support is available. One in 10, meanwhile, have concerns about the scheme providing relevant support.

Elona Mortimer-Zhika, CEO of IRIS, commented: “These YouGov findings clearly show us smaller businesses need more support at this significant stage in our economic recovery.

“Government-backed programmes are vital to the UK’s economy. But at the pace businesses need support today, ‘Help to Grow’ – specifically, ‘Help to Grow: Digital’ – is not moving quick enough. After a delay of around six weeks, it’s finally launched.

‘More must be done by big business’ to help SMEs

“But the gap between what the government can pick up and where private enterprise currently steps in is substantial. There is more that can and must be done by big business.

“At IRIS, we understand the need to move fast to help small businesses navigate today’s market conditions. That’s why we have our ‘Time to Grow’ initiative, so SMEs can rapidly receive up to 50% off any of our software products and pursue digital transformation.”

There are 5.6 million SMEs in the UK, representing 99.9% of the total number of firms.

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