The government held the first meeting of the new Small Business Council at the end of February with the aim of bringing together SME (small and medium enterprises) leaders from across the country.

The aim of the council is to provide a bespoke forum that allows the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses to have their voices represented within government.

In addition, it has also refreshed the Help to Grow website to include a one-stop shop to support and advise small firms on how to grow and scale up. It will also help them to identify what funding they can access as well as the basics of setting up a business for the first time.

According to the government’s figures, the country’s small businesses support 27 million jobs across the UK and account for £4.5 trillion of annual turnover. That, says the government, is why it is making 2024 the year of the SME.

The new Help to Grow site will bring together the support on offer from the government into one place. Other support includes continued investment in the Help to Grow: Management Course, an intensive 12-week programme to improve SME leadership and management skills. SMEs from all sectors are able to access the programme that is 90% subsidised by the government. 

Business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local communities and drive the UK’s economy, supporting jobs and wages across the country.  

“This new council will mean SMEs have a clear voice at the table and we can deliver on the key needs for business. 

“We are taking action to ensure that they have the support, tools and guidance they need to thrive – because when small businesses succeed, the UK succeeds.” 

Small business minister Kevin Hollinrake added: “I know first hand how important small businesses are, but I also understand some of the barriers they face to start up or grow their existing firm. 

“Which is why I’m proud of the work we’re doing as a government to really tackle some of the burning issues SMEs face on a daily basis – only then can we help boost jobs and grow the economy.” 

Kevin Hollinrake has also launched the Lilac Review jointly with Small Business Britain, which is billed as a “major new independent review determined to tackle and overcome the inequality faced by disabled business owners”.