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Government Launches New Measures To Help SMEs

Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock Pledges To Remove SME Barriers


Small and medium enterprises (SME) will find it easier to expand thanks to a raft of new measures introduced by the government.

A recent report by Barclays highlighted a 3.4 per cent upturn in the number of companies operating in the UK in the first six months of the year, although many firms are still encountering significant obstacles when attempting to grow.

Enterprise minister Matthew Hancock has made a number of announcements and commitments that could have positive implications for SMEs.

Firstly, he confirmed that 22 cities across the country will benefit from £100 million of broadband vouchers, which will be worth up to £3,000 each. This, Mr Hancock said, will allow small businesses to access faster internet connections.

Additionally, the government has pledged to reduce the burden of energy bills on SMEs by working alongside power suppliers to limit backbilling, increase price transparency and make switching providers easier.

Mr Hancock also unveiled plans to improve the relationship between the public sector and small companies.

It is now easier for SMEs to successfully bid for lucrative government contracts, and companies that supply public organisations will also be paid more promptly. Many small firms have reported cashflow problems because of late payments, so the authorities are keen to address this issue.

Mr Hancock announced the details of the 'Small Business: GREAT Ambition' initiative during 'Small Business Saturday' - a nationwide venture aimed at promoting SMEs.

"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy and responsible for nearly half the job creation in the UK," he commented.

"That's why we are removing barriers to growth and supporting them, so that they can create jobs and compete in the global race."

Business secretary Vince Cable revealed a number of packages aimed at nurturing SME growth during his Autumn Statement last week (5 December), including further business rate relief and the addition of £250m to the British Business Bank.

Mr Cable said it is important small companies can gain access to finance through alternative means, such as angel investors and crowd funding.

Expert Opinion
These new measures announced by the government are another positive step which demonstrates the emphasis which is being placed on small businesses in the current economic climate, with the general view being that they have an integral role to play in boosting the economy.

"The recent initiatives and campaigns to boost support for small businesses are very welcome and we would urge small companies to take a closer look at the incentives they could benefit from.

"However, growing businesses need to also ensure they have the tools at their disposal to take advantage of the opportunities that such initiatives will provide. A vital part of this is having access to legal support for all kinds of issues, from employment law and real estate advice to general regulatory guidance."
Steven Beahan, Partner