But an important new survey suggests that the vast majority of businesses just don’t know what local help they can get and where to get it from.Huddlebuy surveyed more than 1,800 small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) from up and down the land during October – and the results make very interesting, and in some cases, alarming, reading. Almost nine out of ten of respondents had not even heard of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – despite these being flagship local partnerships between local authorities and businesses that handle billions of pounds’ worth of investment and bid for billions more each year. This is particularly concerning because the LEPs have replaced regional development agencies as the key driver of local economic growth and job creation. In other words, it is key that more businesses know about them and take advantage of the range of programmes they offer – from skills, to employment support to innovation to business support services. Meanwhile more than half of the SMEs surveyed knew nothing about government-subsidised apprentice schemes despite a wealth of political furore about these schemes for many a year. And three out of five businesses said they did not receive any local support from business groups, networks, local authorities or other local businesses. These alarming results come despite the vast majority of SMEs saying they are crying out for more local help and support. In other words, British businesses are desperate for timely and useful help right now – but just don’t know where and how to get it. So, in an effort to bridge this yawning gap, read on for some must-do things that every British business, big or small, can do today to get the help they need and deserve.
1. Find out about your LEPThe best starting point to find out where a LEP in your local area is. Any business should keep a close eye on the latest news, programmes, schemes, bids, initiatives, support services and information coming out of their local LEP. A top level analysis of the major LEPs in the country shows that there are more than 1,000 current schemes and initiatives that businesses can tap into, including funding, mentoring, apprenticeships, local events, tax and compliance aid and training for employees and employers.
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