The measures include a £95 million investment from the Regional Growth Fund to benefit hundreds of small businesses. The funding will support SMEs considering investing in new capital assets and is expected to create at least 4,000 jobs and unlock around £500 million of new investment.
The Government, through UKTI is also teaming up with Yell to get 3,500 businesses into workshops all over the country to ensure they are able to exploit the global opportunities offered by the internet.
There is also a series of commitments from banks and business advisers to fuel business growth, including: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) partnering with Barclays to provide free finance advice for SMEs; Lloyds launching a network of export mentors and Santander organising trade missions to Brazil.
The Prime Minister announced the business growth package at the ‘Exporting for Growth’ conference in London. The conference brought together SMEs, banks, business advisers and trade bodies to encourage more businesses to export, and ensure that they have the finance they need to grow.
Prime Minister David Cameron said “British SMEs are already doing incredible things, but we urgently need more of them to follow that boldness. We need this to be a country where more people think ‘I can start my own business and I can sell to the world.
“Our determination is to come through these difficult times stronger, to trade our way to growth and jobs. We need to show real optimism about the future, and we need to show real aggression about pursuing Britain’s interests in the world. The markets are there to be tapped; the deals are there to be done, the opportunities are there to be capitalised on. Now together we must seize them.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said “Securing a return to long-term economic growth is the Government’s highest priority. Helping entrepreneurs export to new markets and get access to the finance they need are critical to making this a reality.
“Today, not only are we able to announce substantial new measures to support businesses, but also to see the commitment of private sector firms and organisations to tackling the economic challenges we face. We want to reach and help the 80 per cent of SMEs who don’t seek external advice before applying for finance.
“The small firms of today are Britain’s international success stories of our future and it is this success that will build the strong, balanced economy that will secure our economic prosperity.”
Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said “Government alone cannot turn round the export performance of this country.
“We need to work with those that have most to do with small companies, can help them to understand the benefits of exporting, and can then help make it a reality.
“Our future prosperity will not come from relying on domestic markets alone. Across the world there are markets that are showing strong, long-term growth. We want to make sure that UK firms are not just trading abroad but thriving there. UKTI has a crucial role to play and will seek to double its client base from around 25,000 companies to around 50,000 over the next three years.”
Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said “Small firms must be able to get access to the finance they need to grow. The Finance Fitness campaign we are launching today will equip them with the advice and guidance they need to do so.
“The wide range of public and private finance options available can be daunting to a new entrepreneur. 15 per cent of SMEs do not apply for finance despite needing it, so we want to provide these businesses with the knowledge and confidence to secure the finance that is right for them.”
Pernille Bruun-Jensen, managing director of Intuit UK says: “Poor financial management is the number one reason that so many businesses fail within three years of launch. There is no margin for error. Intuit research found that 42 per cent of start-ups are set up on £1,000 or less and 86 per cent are self-financed, compared to just 5 per cent using a bank loan and 3 per cent using a government grant.
“To support small business success and the Government initiatives to stimulate an enterprise-led recovery, we are thrilled to be working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on an initiative that has such a crucial importance for small businesses. Entrepreneurs aren’t always financial experts and for many, managing their finances is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of starting up. Through the financial fitness programme, Intuit intends to help entrepreneurs enhance their business performance through inspiring training and advice.”