UMi has secured a contract with the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) to spearhead the new Business Support Service, striving to assist the growth and success of SMEs in England.

UMi’s extensive track record of helping over 600,000 businesses start, survive and thrive put them in first place to deliver the new virtual support service that offers invaluable advice and guidance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at every stage of their business journey.

SMEs are critical to the UK’s economy, representing £4.5 trillion of revenue and 27 million jobs . UMi’s experience of similar services has shown that on average in 2023, 68% of businesses accessing advice in this way were able to take action following their interaction, a stat which has risen to 72% in 2024 – emphasising the demand for a service which supports and uplifts SMEs.

The Business Support Service builds on the success of the national Business Support Helpline, which UMi has delivered previously, and will empower businesses with information on national and local schemes, grants, and loans, fostering an environment which encourages growth and success.

The launch of the service is well timed to support the ‘Year of the SME’ alongside the UK government’s Help to Grow campaign which aims to help the 5.5 million small businesses across the UK. With the backing of these two campaigns, SMEs can be reaffirmed of the commitment from government, and its collaborators like UMi, to making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

The service has several key features that perfectly position it to support the diverse needs of businesses:

1. Expert Advisory Team: UMi takes pride in its team of highly experienced advisers, ready to provide personalised assistance. The expert team takes an omnichannel approach, and is accessible via phone, e-mail, webchat, and social media, so no matter how entrepreneurs prefer to get in touch, they can.

2. Flexible Services Channels and Service Hours: The Business Support Service operates from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm and can be accessed via the telephone, email, webchat, and main social media channels, offering flexibility to businesses in need of guidance during standard working hours.

3. In-Depth Telephone Appointments: Recognising the complexity of certain business needs, the service provides the option for telephone/video appointments, allowing users to receive in-depth advice tailored to their specific requirements.

4. Impressive Track Record: Based on previous performance, the team manages over 33,000 enquiries annually, with an outstanding satisfaction rate of 98%. The service’s impact in terms of Gross Value Added is estimated at £31 million, showcasing its substantial contribution to the economic landscape. The estimated average cost saving per user is £32, resulting in approximately £1 million in total cost savings across all businesses engaged with the core service.

5. Efficiency and Speed: With an emphasis on speed and breadth of support available, the Business Support Service sees that 72% of callers take immediate action based on the advice received during their interactions.

Collaborations with other experts are also a boost to the service’s resources. Alongside UMi, PA Consulting will play a pivotal role by enhancing the technological capabilities of the project and the National Enterprise Network (NEN) will enhance the service’s ability to scale in the event of an economic or environmental issue. This partnership brings together a wealth of knowledge and insights, ensuring that businesses accessing the service receive unparalleled support and guidance.

Businesses seeking more information on the free advice available from the service can visit the Business Support Service website, or reach out and speak to an advisor via phone (0800 998 1098), email, webchat, LinkedIn, X, Facebook, and YouTube.

Nicki Clark OBE, UMi Chief Executive said: “UMi exists to help other businesses go further by taking the hard work out of finding and using the best information expertise and finance, so what is a better example of that than the Business Support Service. We are really proud to be delivering such an important service on behalf of the Department for Business and Trade.

“This is not just a contract win for UMi; it’s a testament to our commitment to creating a positive impact not just for our immediate shareholders, in our case our whole team, but also our planet and the communities where we live and work, fostering growth and success for businesses.”

Nigel Robinson, Partner and expert in Digital and Data at PA Consulting, said: “We are delighted to join forces with UMi on this transformative initiative. Our digital transformation expertise will be instrumental in optimising the service’s capabilities, ensuring that SMEs receive cutting-edge support in navigating the complexities of today’s business landscape.

“PA Consulting is committed to driving innovation and fostering economic growth, and we are proud to contribute to a project that aligns with these core values. Together with UMi, we look forward to making a lasting impact on the success of small businesses and creating a resilient and dynamic business environment.”

Alex Till, Chair, National Enterprise Network, said: “We are delighted that DBT recognises the value of this kind of national, easy-accessible and tailored support for SMEs.

“SMEs are the powerhouse of the UK economy, accounting for the majority of its growth and innovation. Programmes such as this are essential for the continued prosperity and growth of the UK economy. NEN is proud to be able to support the Business Support Service as part of our mission to support the creation of economic growth through long term embedded community cohesion, local knowledge and partnerships.”

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