small business, insight

How SMEs can improve their productivity with Help To Grow: Digital

Modulr By Modulr on 22 September 2021   •   5 mins read
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >How SMEs can improve their productivity with Help To Grow: Digital</span>

At Modulr, we understand that running a small business is a big job. That's why we're committed to relieving SMEs of the heavy burden of manual workflows and admin.

We also know there's lots of regulatory and financial changes on the horizon to contend with. By sharing updates on things like initiatives, we're doing our bit to keep our SME customers informed and up to date. And we can help them understand that, by using our technology, they are best equipped to keep pace with a digitising world in the most efficient way possible.


Help To Grow: Digital is a government initiative announced during this year’s annual budget, designed to support UK SMEs to become more productive and grow. 

The UK’s productivity is often criticised as lagging behind its overseas counterparts, with the output of a UK worker over five days being performed over four days by German workers.

Help To Grow: Digital aims to solve this by providing advice on adopting digital technology, alongside subsidised software vouchers (to the value of £520m) to access accounting, CRM, and e-commerce software. Hopefully, this will encourage many SMEs to increase their take-up of digital tools, with the economy benefiting as we recover from the pandemic. 

What is Help To Grow: Digital?

Help To Grow: Digital offers impartial advice to SMEs about digital tools via an online platform and provides access to discounted software to put this knowledge into action.

SMEs will be able to claim a discount of up to 50% on the cost of adopting approved software, worth up to £5,000 in total.

The complete list of approved software vendors, alongside information on the educational platform, is due to be announced shortly. The application deadline for software vendors closed on 8 September.

The plan is that vendors on the scheme will be able to help businesses:

  • Build customer relationships and increase their sales (CRM)
  • Make the most out of selling their products and services online (e-commerce)
  • Manage their accounting records and finances digitally (accounting)

Why is it important?

Help to Grow: Digital is a critical intervention to increase productivity measures in the UK and encourage small businesses to become more resilient in the face of the pandemic. Over the last 18 months, many businesses have been forced to stop trading from bricks and mortar premises, and this presents a unique opportunity to encourage them to adopt e-commerce solutions and grow their customer reach.  

At the time of the scheme’s announcement Julian David, techUK’s CEO, said:

“We are particularly encouraged by the support to help SMEs with digital adoption. During the pandemic, companies able to take advantage of the latest digital technologies to adapt to social distancing restrictions were not just able to survive, but to thrive, growing up to eight times faster than those who did not use digital tools.” 

All businesses will soon have to finally make the jump to using cloud accounting software, with the MTD roadmap mandating the need to keep digital accounting records to submit to HMRC. With that in mind, it’s encouraging that one of the criteria for accounting vendors is that they must be MTD compliant. 

The benefits of shifting to cloud-based digital record-keeping of accounting data are numerous, and include better collaboration opportunities with their accountants as well as using automation features to speed up the delivery of close to real-time data. Common examples include pulling in data from bank feeds and auto-matching invoices to bank reconciliations.

On top of that, automation can be further leveraged by incorporating third-party tools to complete a bigger portion of lengthy manual tasks. An effective way to increase productivity is to use tools to automate payment runs, which are important but usually time-consuming. 

Solutions such as Modulr’s Payments Dashboard makes payments a fast and frictionless experience by unifying payment workflows, so data from outstanding bills can be pulled directly from accounting software when making payments, eliminating the risk of human error. This means companies and their accountants can become more agile, and can spend the time saved on more value-adding tasks that can improve the business. 

Who can apply?

Help To Grow’s digital learning platform will be accessible to small businesses, and to access the subsidised software vouchers, companies need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be registered in the UK on Companies House
  • Have a minimum trading history of at least 12 months
  • Employ between 5-249 employees

The scheme will take place over several waves, with each period allowing qualifying SMEs to claim grant tokens for one technology product. 

Companies will only be able to use discounted software from vendors if they have not used it before.

How and when can you apply for vouchers?

Businesses can express their interest now by submitting their Companies House number and email address on the Gov.uk website.

Applicants will then be contacted in the autumn with further details once they are released.

By taking part in the Help To Grow scheme, small businesses can drive efficiency and improvement. And because the scheme is heavily subsidised, it won’t dent finances just to get going. In fact, taking advantage of the help available to get MTD ready, and coupling it with solutions like the Payments Dashboard, small businesses can look forward to greater profitability in the future.

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