News story

Government launches support to help small businesses Do More Online

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New campaign includes £2 million for Local Enterprise Partnerships to help micro-businesses and sole traders increase their online presence.

The measures announced today as part of the Do More Online campaign include:

  • £2 million of funding to 22 projects through Local Enterprise Partnerships to help small businesses increase their digital presence. Projects include the development of a digital TV channel in Manchester which provides easily-accessible and cost-effective advice to businesses, supported by events, advice and networking sessions

  • resources and advice available on how small businesses can Do More Online or by calling the business support helpline on 0300 456 3565

  • government working in partnership with Go ON UK to provide resources specifically for small businesses

Business and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

Thousands of potential customers are searching online for local small businesses and without an online profile businesses will lose out.

To make sure consumers get the best deal and small businesses spread their nets far and wide, the government is investing in a range of advice to help them do more online. I am committed to making the UK the best place in the world to start up and grow, and this is integral to achieving that.

Exact UK, HP, Microsoft, Telefonica, The Coalition For A Digital Economy and Virgin Media Business have kindly endorsed the campaign.

BIS Entrepreneur-in-Residence Simon Devonshire said:

British businesses should consider having a presence online as more important than having an office landline telephone number. Online is the new landline. A landline number used to be a mark of authenticity for businesses. The move to a digital economy has meant consumers are more likely to trust a business with a website and consider a business more credible if they offer the ability to transact seamlessly online.

Government research suggests that nearly 2 million UK businesses are not online, and of those that do have an online presence; over two-thirds are not transactional. I cannot think of a business to whom being on-line is not now vital to their trade, irrespective of their ambition to grow. I think those businesses that embrace the digital opportunity are improving their opportunity to reduce costs, to scale-up, and possibly even export – giving a further boost to the UK economy.

Rachel Neaman, CEO of digital skills charity Go ON UK, said:

31% of small businesses in the UK lack basic digital skills, making them less competitive than many of their peers. The UK is embracing technology more and more with new jobs and new businesses being ‘born on the web’; yet just half of small businesses and charities have a website. 

Go ON UK welcomes the government’s investment in addressing the digital skills gap for small businesses. We are delighted to support the Business is GREAT initiative by partnering with BIS to enable small businesses and sole traders across the UK to realise the impact that developing basic digital skills can have on their business prospects.

Eileen Naughton, Managing Director of Google UK, said:

The internet is playing a key role in helping companies of all sizes across the UK reach new customers, manage marketing expenses and use data-driven consumer insights to help their business grow. We believe that it is crucial that companies like Google and the government invest in programmes that show small businesses how easy it is to get online and start reaping the rewards of the digital economy.

Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director of SME Banking at Santander, said:

More trade than ever now takes place online and a digital presence is essential for all UK businesses, but especially those that want to expand overseas. Surprisingly, our Business Growth Survey 2014 found that more than a third (34%) of UK businesses, looking to export, don’t have their own website and 63% don’t currently have the capacity to accept online payments.

Santander is committed to helping UK businesses grow and prosper and welcomes this initiative to support SMEs through the digital revolution.