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Applications open for government's Help to Grow: Digital scheme

New small business support site provides a list of 'approved' CRM and digital accountancy providers

The UK government has opened an online scheme that offers discounts for small businesses and startups looking to adopt digital services.

The Help to Grow: Digital website launched on Thursday with a number of 'approved' software service packages and a range of video guides already available.

Small businesses can get discounts of up to £5,000 off the retail price for a selection of customer relationship management (CRM) and accounting services.

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Approved CRM providers include UK-based companies Zemplify, Swiftcase, and Gold-Vision, while accounting deals are provided by Sage, Quickbooks, and a number of smaller British providers.

The government has also said that additional software categories will be available soon, but has only confirmed e-commerce so far.

The scheme was pitched as part of chancellor Rishi Sunak's spring budget in 2021 as a response to the pandemic and the increased uptake of online and digital software. It's aimed at SMBs and startups that are at least 12 months old and have between 5 and 249 employees.

Eligible businesses must also be purchasing the approved software for the first time, with the financial discount only covering 12-months worth of product costs (exclusive of VAT).

The scheme can be accessed through a government portal where applicants can search and compare all the 'approved' services. A tool has also been provided to help less experienced applicants find out what services they could use, although this does require handing over additional business information, such as how they typically engage with customers and the size of their IT teams.

Those that are new to digital tools can also browse a library of video explainers and tutorials that walk them through various elements of software adoption and how businesses can best make use of them. It also includes explainers on CRM software and guides to finding out which products are best, as well as a complete list of the 'approved' providers.

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