Small firms to get productivity boost

A new fund designed to boost the productivity of small businesses has been launched by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

Local 'anchor' organisations will be able to bid for a share of the £1.5 million fund to support their local economies. Anchor organisations are bodies that have strong local connections and are therefore well placed to take a lead role in boosting output, such as universities, chambers of commerce and local enterprise networks.

Organisations must invest either cash or in-kind contributions to the project, while the government will contribute a maximum £200,000.

UKCES is looking for bids from regions where productivity levels are below the national average. Proposals must include innovative suggestions about how the institution can work with small businesses to develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

The closing date for bids is 30 April 2015.

Earnings, international competitiveness and economic growth are being affected by poor productivity levels that are nearly 20% lower than the average advanced economy.

A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group called on the government to increase support for local economies in order to improve small business productivity.

Julie Kenny, commissioner at UKCES, said:

"Britain is falling behind the rest of the world in terms of productivity, meaning we are working more but producing less.

"This competitive fund has been designed to work with anchor institutions - those who can reach a wide number of small firms in their region and deliver insightful programmes. We are looking for innovative ideas that can be tested and trialled with small businesses, to develop these essential skills that will help them to prosper and increase productivity in their local community."

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