The government’s scheme aimed at helping small business has barely dented its £30m budget, having only handed out £3.6m so far and due to end in a couple of weeks.
Launched in January 2014 by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Growth Voucher programme aims to offer businesses strategic advice on areas such as cash flow, staff development, management and technology - as well as cash vouchers to help pay for the advice.
The vouchers, with a value of up to £2000, were supposed to be handed out to 'randomly chosen ' businesses (with the proviso that the donation be match funded by the selected enterprise).
However, The Guardian reported that the scheme had coughed up just 12% of the budget provided for small businesses, with only 2,132 growth vouchers (worth £3.6m) claimed.
A BIS spokesperson added that advice worth £1.2m was also given to businesses.
Set to close on 31 March, the scheme is eligible for independent businesses registered in England with less than 250 employees and lower than a £35.5m turnover.
Last month, a progress report published by the government analysed the vouchers scheme and revealed that, in many cases, businesses were receiving vouchers but not redeeming them.
Within the report, they cited the vouchers scheme as a ‘research programme’ to consider whether the use of an external advice platform would result in better performance from businesses.
In a recent statement to The Guardian, they referred to the progress report and the valuable nature of scheme.
‘Evidence gathered from this demand-led research programme will help us develop better business support schemes in the future as well as helping businesses decide what type of advice they need to grow,’ a spokesperson said.
The BIS also said: ‘There are still 5,694 vouchers in businesses’ possession worth £11m that are yet to be spent and we will continue to distribute vouchers through to the end of March when the programme officially closes.
‘More than 12,000 growth vouchers have been issued since the initiative launched in January 2014.’
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