There is nothing like a deadline! In the penultimate month for applications for the Growth Voucher Scheme the number of applicants was 927, in the final month this went up to it’s peak of 5,594 as businesses tried to get in before the final deadline of 31 March. No more applications will be accepted for this Scheme (although businesses with a Voucher have until 30th June to redeem them).
This Scheme was a trial to test the effectiveness of Government sponsored business advice. It has definitely raised the awareness amongst small businesses of taking strategic advice and it has been a means of stimulating visits to the ‘Enterprise Nation’ portal.
There is a real challenge with this initiative however – the usual one of ‘You can take a horse to water but not make them drink’. The take up has still be below the potential (although the press reports say that the targets have been met).
Cornmill Associates are one of the 30% of Advisers on Enterprise Nation that are accredited for Growth Vouchers and we have seen useful enquiries about the advice we can give – so clearly businesses are exploring this.
There still however remains some uncertainty for businesses as to whether their application will lead to the issue of a voucher – out of over 26,000 applications nationally 12,000 were ‘successful’ – so less than 50%.
It is hoped that the Growth Voucher scheme will be replaced with the ‘Enterprise Voucher’ initiative and that can surely address some of the issues that have arisen with GV. It will also accelerate the awareness and build upon the momentum gained in the last few months.