Business boost as Chancellor visits West Midlands to launch new tech support program

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  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak hosted a virtual roundtable with small business owners to launch Help to Grow: digital platform for SMEs

  • The program offers small businesses discounts of up to £5,000 on approved software and a dedicated website with free advice and support

  • The Chancellor also traveled to Stoke to see how a £20million government investment is funding a regeneration project in the city and surrounding towns.

Rishi Sunak hosted the call with over 30 businesses from across the UK at the CineBowl in Uttoxeter to mark the launch of the programme, where he spoke to people on the big screen about their experiences before taking part in a Q&A session- answers.

The program includes a dedicated website offering free advice and support and great software to boost productivity and help businesses grow.

Participants included an accounting firm, a catering and cooking school, a hair and beauty salon and a web designer. They joined from across the UK including Edinburgh, Bristol, Bolton, Norwich, Brentford, Peterborough, Brighton and Yorkshire.

Following his visit, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and prosperity across the UK.

When I announced this in the budget, I said that we wanted to help businesses become more innovative, more competitive and more profitable and I am delighted that this program allows them to do that.

It has been fantastic talking to businesses across the UK and discussing how the program will benefit them – adopting new technology has been proven to improve processes and increase productivity.

While in the area, the Chancellor also visited the former Spode pottery factory in Stoke to see how a £20m investment from the Leveling Up Fund will help transform the historic site into new homes, shops and space community. This will help increase opportunities, create jobs and stimulate the local economy.

The funding will also help transform the derelict works of Crown Pottery in Longton to make way for new homes and community space, alongside new apartments in the Grade II listed Tunstall Library, creating an attractive place for residents.

Mr Sunak also spoke with local business owners at the Quarter @ Potbank cafe, entertainment company Carse & Waterman and the Spode Museum, where he heard about how regenerating the area will increase attendance . The Spode regeneration project is one of three successful Leveling Up Fund bids for Stoke, worth a total of £56m, including £20m for the regeneration of Hanley in the city center and £16million to redevelop the Goods Yard near the railway line. station.

These are three of 11 projects in the West Midlands to receive a £196m share of the £1.7bn first round of the Leveling Fund, as announced by the Chancellor in the October budget.

This builds on record investment in local transport infrastructure in areas outside London, including £29m through the Transforming Cities Fund to improve the area around Stoke-on-Trent station. The region will also receive up to £50,000 in feasibility funding to look into the case of restoring passenger rail links between Stoke and Leek, as announced during the budget in October.

More information

  • The Help to Grow: Digital program is implemented through a new online platform

  • To qualify for the financial rebate through Help to Grow: Digital, businesses can be from any industry, but must meet the following four criteria:

o Be a UK-based company registered with Companies House or be a company registered with the Financial Conduct Authorities Mutual Register.

o Be employing between 5 and 249 people.

o Have actively traded for more than 12 months and have an incorporation date of at least 365 days prior to application.

o Purchase approved software for the first time.

  • Eligible businesses will receive a financial rebate for the purchase of an approved software product up to a maximum of £5,000 (excluding VAT) in the Customer Relationship Management and Digital Accounting software product categories.

  • Additional software product categories will soon be available with the discount, including e-commerce software

  • Financial discount covers 12 months of approved software product base costs, excluding VAT

  • Approved technology vendor software products on the Help to Grow: Digital online platform for Wave 1 are:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software:

o Zestia Ltd

o Zymplify

o Livepoint Software Solutions Ltd

o Esteiro Business Solutions Ltd

o Deskpro Ltd

  • Digital accounting software:

o Sage

o Intuit Ltd

o E-crunch

  • The first round of the Leveling Up fund announced during the Budget will invest £1.7billion in 105 local infrastructure projects across the UK. The complete list of successful projects is here

  • Photos are available on the Treasury’s Flickr page.

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