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Government launches new Help to Grow campaign declaring 2024 as “Year of the SME”

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The UK Government is reinforcing its dedication to the nation’s 5.5 million small businesses through the establishment of a groundbreaking Small Business Council, set to launch next month.

This council, a pivotal extension of the Department’s existing SME support, will serve as an exclusive platform for small businesses, ensuring their voices are heard within the government.

Acknowledging that almost every business in the country falls under the small business category, supporting 27 million jobs and contributing £4.5 trillion in annual turnover, the government is declaring 2024 as the “Year of the SME.”

In tandem with the Council’s creation, the Help to Grow campaign and website have undergone enhancements to become a comprehensive resource hub for SMEs. This consolidated platform offers vital information, including funding options, webinars, and foundational guidance for new businesses.

Recognizing the challenges faced by those embarking on entrepreneurial journeys, the government’s revamped website now features a user-friendly, step-by-step guide with practical advice to assist individuals in establishing and expanding their businesses in the UK.

As part of this initiative, the Help to Grow: Management courses, announced in the Autumn Statement, have officially launched. This intensive 12-week program aims to enhance SME leadership and management skills, with 90% government subsidization. The program has already benefited nearly 8,000 businesses, and the goal is to support up to 30,000 throughout its lifetime.

To mark the campaign’s revitalization, the Prime Minister will host a Downing Street panel event with small business leaders, discussing strategies for starting and scaling successful businesses in the UK.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch emphasized the critical role small businesses play in local communities and the national economy. She expressed confidence that the new Council will amplify SMEs’ voices, addressing their essential needs.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake highlighted the government’s commitment to overcoming barriers faced by small businesses, promoting job growth and economic development.

The government has received positive feedback from successful entrepreneurs who have benefited from its support. Julianne Ponan MBE, Owner and CEO of Creative Nature, credited the Department of Business and Trade for facilitating the expansion of her business into international markets.

Jake Xu, Co-Founder of Shakeup Cosmetics, acknowledged the government’s support in various stages of their business, leading to significant achievements, including securing a six-figure loan for growth.

Rushina Shah, Founder of Insane Grain, highlighted government assistance such as the small business grant fund, SEIS relief, and R&D tax relief, which played a vital role in her business’s survival and innovation during challenging times.

The Small Business Minister is also launching the Lilac Review in collaboration with Small Business Britain, aiming to address and overcome the inequalities faced by disabled business owners.

The government’s overarching strategy for backing British businesses includes tax cuts, removing growth barriers, facilitating trade deals, and improving finance accessibility. The government is committed to creating a conducive economic environment for businesses to thrive and has made significant progress in areas such as inflation reduction, wage growth, and debt reduction.

Additionally, the government is actively addressing issues affecting small firms, such as late payments. Initiatives like the Prompt Payment and Cash Flow Review demonstrate the commitment to making the UK the best place to do business.

The British Business Bank’s support for over 90,000 SMEs and the government’s business rates package, worth £4.3 billion over the next five years, showcase ongoing efforts to bolster businesses nationwide. Measures like freezing alcohol duty and introducing Small Producer Relief further illustrate the commitment to supporting small businesses.

In conclusion, the government’s Help to Grow initiative aims to provide long-term support for UK businesses, fostering a brighter economic future and enhancing security and opportunities for all.

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