Today sees the launch of the Government’s Growth Voucher scheme, first announced last March at the 2013 Budget. The new program is designed to help businesses tackle skills gaps by offering up to £2,000 towards training in finance, taking on employees, leadership and management, marketing or new technology.

The Prime Minister will formally launch the Voucher scheme at the Federation of Small Business Policy Conference, telling the assembled crowd:

“This will make it easier for you to grow, to create jobs and to help give this country the long-term security we are working towards.”

The vouchers are being offered through a dedicated website, featuring a marketplace where business owners can filter by approved advisors.

The Growth Voucher scheme is not available to all businesses – to qualify a firm must:

  • Have 49 or fewer full-time employees
  • Have a Balance Sheet of €10 million or less
  • Be independently owned (less than 25% owned by an external organisations)
  • Have been trading for more than one year
  • Be registered in England with Companies House or HMRC
  • Not have received any paid-for strategic advice in the last three years

You can view the full terms and conditions here (PDF).

The Government’s business support schemes have seen mixed success since the Coalition came to power in 2010. The Startup Loans scheme has been welcomed by the small business and startup communities, whereas the controversial Employee Shareholder Contracts initiative has seen little traction. The Government has also been widely criticised in the freelancer and contractor communities for focusing support on small businesses with employees, rather than independent professionals. The Growth Voucher scheme, although not specifically designed for the self-employed, is available to them nonetheless.