AAT calls on the government to boost Help to Grow uptake in the small business community

28 January 2022

Woman at a desk reading from tablet infront of laptop

AAT is calling on the government to make prompt changes to its Help to Grow: Management scheme to help boost uptake from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across the UK.

The organisation’s chief executive, Sarah Beale, has written to Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, with a number of suggestions on changes to the current eligibility criteria which could increase applications and uptake. As of 31 October 2021, only 810 people had signed up to the programme, despite there being 30,000 places available.

The recommendations made by AAT in the letter include:

  • Allowing more than one person per company to participate, which would help more staff to gain additional management skills and understanding.
  • Making employees of the 3,000 small businesses which participated in the Small Business Leadership Programme eligible for Help to Grow, which they are currently prohibited from joining.
  • Reducing the minimum number of employees required for an SME to take part in Help to Grow from five to one, retaining the existing safeguard that participating employees should be employed in a line management role.
  • Permitting charities to participate, helping to increase take-up as well as boosting the economic performance of the charity sector which is predominantly made up of small and medium-sized entities.

Sarah Beale, Chief Executive, AAT, said:

“AAT members provide tax and accountancy services to over half a million UK SMEs, so we know how important it is to help support skills growth in the sector. The Help to Grow: Management scheme can enable SMEs across the UK to develop the management expertise their business needs. The scheme is 90 per cent government-funded and run by Small Business Charter accredited business schools and yet the low uptake rate suggests that many SMEs are currently being put off by the restrictive eligibility criteria.

“We would very much like to see this scheme succeed so that SMEs, their customers and the UK economy as a whole can all benefit. However, without prompt government intervention, the scheme may prove to be another missed opportunity and frankly  underdeliver, despite good intentions and ambition. That’s why I’ve written to Paul Scully MP suggesting changes to the scheme to help attract the desired numbers.

“AAT is committed to working with the government to give the Help to Grow: Management scheme every chance of success and we’ll continue to signpost our members and stakeholders to the scheme in the meantime.”

For more information on AAT’s support for SMEs, see Informi – a free website launched by AAT and accessed by over 650,000 people and businesses last year alone – providing advice and guidance for the small business community.