SOUTH west start-ups will be the first to benefit from the share of an £8m fund to battle low productivity.

The Business Basics Fund, of which £2m will be available to small businesses in the region through Business West, is intended to help firms take advantage of productivity-boosting technologies and management practices.

Business West, which supports business across the region and in Swindon and Wiltshire, will use the funds to roll out an innovative management development programme aimed at micro-enterprises.

The UK as a whole ranks near the bottom in G7 countries for productivity, and the average British worker produced 16 per cent less on average that workers in comparable European countries, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Managing director of Business West Phil Smith welcomed the cash injection, which will be delivered through consultancy Cavendish Enterprises.

“We work with thousands of small businesses across the South West and know from experience that it’s a big step for many to divert precious time and resources away from their day to day operations and try something new,” he said.

“Nevertheless, innovation is what enables firms to grow. That’s why we’re delighted to be the chosen delivery partner for the successful Cavendish Enterprise bid, to provide an innovative new management training programme for businesses in the south west.

“The Business Basics Fund is a clear signal from government that it takes the need to solve the UK’s productivity puzzle seriously. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, which means it is vitally important that they’re given the support they need to adopt new technologies and find novel ways of doing business to be competitive.”

The government has been criticised for failing to tackle the low growth in productivity since the financial crash in 2008.

The ONS estimates that if growth had continued at pre-2008 levels productivity would be 20 per cent higher that it actually was at the end of 2017.

Small business minister KellyTolhurst said: “This investment will support innovative projects that test how Government and private sector companies can help small businesses adopt a range of technologies and management practices that save them time and make them more efficient.” 

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