Government software grants need further support

23rd March 2021
Alex Lynn

Recently announced government software grants of up to £5,000, for productivity enhancing software will not enable companies to embraace new technology and use it to build their companies, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

David Hough a partner at the firm said: “Providing grants for software may incentivise companies to spend money on installing new IT but this is not a solution that is going to help any business if the recipients don’t know how to use it and what benefits it will bring.

“The Governments software grant is not a solution on its own. Further support is needed to guide small businesses on how technology can help them and provide access to relevant learning and development that their current employees will need.

“The risk with new technology is that it is quickly installed but existing management practices are simply transferred onto a new platform. This does not result in increased productivity; it simply records what was already happening in a different way.

“Instead small companies need access to Government led educational support and case studies on how they can use technology in their business. This is not readily available and means that too often small business owners are faced with the challenge of knowing that they need to pivot further towards using more technology but faced with a sea with different options that will not necessarily work well together, or with their existing processes.

“Experts in automation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence should be found by the Government  to act as approved suppliers to businesses to help them implement a wider technology strategy.

“This should be funded by Government following the submission of a company digital upgrade plan, rather than simply discounted software. This will help prevent waste on software that the company does not actually need.”

“We have to accept that existing workforces will have a skills gap as new technology is incorporated into existing processes. This does not mean the replacement of existing employees whose industry knowledge will be invaluable but their retraining to ensure they can work with technology specialists.”

“Existing Government led skills funds generally focus on those out of work, but more support is needed to allow small companies to help develop their current workforce before their skills become irrelevant.”

“Government subsidised educational courses to support on the job learning, and tax credits to reward small businesses that invest in learning and development are needed. Otherwise, gains from new technology are lost due to insufficient knowledge of how best to use them.”

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