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Budget 2021: £520m for 'MBA-style training' for small business owners

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Senior designer giving some new ideas about project to her partners in conference room. Business people discussing over new business project in office. Group of businesspeople or designers work with new startup project in office
SMEs are expected to be offered expert tech advice and discounted software in the initiative. Photo: Getty

Tens of thousands of companies in the UK are to be offered world-leading MBA style management training to increase innovation and boost growth.

In a policy due to be announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in the UK's budget on Wednesday, measures to help small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) to innovate and grow will be implemented through a pioneering new scheme.

SMEs are also expected to be offered expert tech advice and discounted software in the initiative.

Sunak will unveil the new "Help to Grow" scheme – which could help 130,000 SMEs become more productive by opening-up access to some of the UK’s finest business schools and embracing the latest digital technology. This will open up opportunities for smaller firms to access tools larger companies can more easily afford.

Studies show that improving the performance of UK SMEs to match competitor countries such as Germany, could add up to £100bn to the economy.

Sunak said: “Help to Grow will ensure they are embracing the latest technology and management training, fuelling our Plan for Jobs by boosting productivity in all corners of the UK."

Under the £520m ($727m) Help to Grow scheme, firms will have access to "Help to Grow: Digital" and "Help to Grow: Management."

READ MORE: UK shadow chancellor attacks Rishi Sunak's 'short term-ism'

As part of the "Help to Grow: Digital" offer, the government will create a new online platform to offer free advice on technology that will help businesses to save time, reduce costs, and reach more customers.

Eligible SMEs will also be given vouchers to get up to 50% off the purchase of new productivity-enhancing software, up to £5,000 each.

Research shows that technologies such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can increase sales by around 18% per employee over the course of three years.

Under "Help to Grow: Management" SMEs will be able to access subsidised management training delivered through world-class British business schools – covering everything from financial management to marketing.

Dozens of our leading business schools across the country will offer 50 hours of tuition with one-to-one support from a business mentor – enhancing the skills of small and medium firm leaders to help improve efficiency.

READ MORE: Budget 2021 preview: What to expect from Rishi Sunak's 'balancing act' budget

The UK ranks fifth in the G7 for the use of management practices, and this 12-week programme will build more profitable, resilient and productive businesses, with evidence suggesting that even small improvements in management practices can lead to 10% increase in productivity.

The "Help to Grow" package will accompany other business boosting measures expected to be announced by the chancellor at budget, including a new UK visa route for firms to attract the brightest and best global talent.

Watch: Rishi Sunak to hail Budget 'big bang' to lure tech giants to London market

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