Posted by

Kamala Mackinnon, Campaigns Adviser

26 Sep 2012

The vouchers worth £5,000 would be offered to businesses, allowing them to access advice and training to help them grow. The advice would be focus towards issues such as exporting, HR, access to finance, marketing and help with the planning system. To be eligible to receive the voucher the business would need a demonstrable growth plan, as the vouchers would only be made available for selected services, ensuring the scheme is not used for working capital. 

This proposed scheme is based on evidence from our membership, who tell us how their concerns around the planning system, access to finance, exporting, staff training, marketing, HR, and accounting, holds their business growth back. Growth Vouchers would offer support for companies in the following areas:

  1. Legal, HR, accounting advice: As businesses expand, accounting and HR systems become more complex, and small businesses in particular can struggle to make sense of employment law and tax systems. BCC research shows that among micro-businesses claiming to be ‘very well-informed’ about changes to employment regulation, a significantly greater proportion are looking to increase or retain their staffing levels by 2015 compared to those likely to reduce staff[1]. Advice would help businesses understand these complex functions of their firms, allowing them to be more efficient, and focus on growth.
  2. Access to finance advice: Smaller, younger, and high-growth businesses often have more difficulty accessing finance than more established firms. Some are unaware of the options available outside traditional debt finance and can’t afford to explore the options themselves. Advice would address the problem of discouraged demand, and would result in more businesses obtaining finance to boost investment plans.
  3. Marketing advice and training: Helping businesses market their products and services, in the UK, and importantly, in overseas markets, could lead to increased sales and growth opportunities for many firms.
  4. Planning support: The complexity of the planning system means many businesses need to hire in external consultants at a high cost. The costs will often put firms off expansion, so offering companies free advice would help motivate businesses to grow and expand their premises.  
  5. Staff training: Workforce skills consistently rank among the top three concerns among chamber members across the country. As businesses expand and develop their goods and services, increased staff training is often needed to help firms grow.
  6. Export advice: Urgent action is needed to support the UK’s potential and current exporters to help rebalance the UK economy towards exports.  BCC research has shown that more than one in five businesses believe they lack the in-house skills, managerial capacity and /or knowledge to export. This perception can act as a barrier to exporting for the first time or expanding export volumes, especially for micro and small businesses. Increased access to UKTI and private sector services (such as export training, market intelligence) as well as access to trade shows and trade missions, would deliver significant additional benefits to would-be exporters that had not previously considered, or had the resources, to export. It would also be beneficial to current exporters wishing to enter new markets.

The BCC believes that Growth Vouchers should be introduced as part of a comprehensive package of measures that will help to entrench a long-lasting recovery. British business wants a comprehensive, New Model Economy that helps UK companies overcome the current global headwinds and lay the groundwork for a stronger future. In particular, we need immediate action to support business investment, job creation, and construction, radical long-term growth measures, including a large-scale infrastructure investment programme, and more support to boost UK exports