The UK government has introduced two new programmes, as well as a new grant scheme, to help support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

The Small Business Leadership will focus on improving small business leadership, while the Peer Networks Programme will focus on helping business owners improve their problem-solving skills.

The Small Business Leadership Programme has been designed to help strengthen the leadership skills of SME owners, giving them the confidence to address management challenges, some of which, such as remote working, have arisen from Covid-19, as well as plan for the future of their business.

The 10-week programme will be delivered virtually by experts from university business schools. Participants will undertake a series of 90-minute webinars delivered by leading business experts, and will also be required to complete up to two hours of independent study learning per week.

The Peer Networks Programme will focus on helping SME business owners improve their problem-solving skills, through a series of guided exercises.

Participants will take part in sessions where common coronavirus-related business challenges will be discussed, such as finding new customers and using technology, such as customer record management and websites, to adapt a business model.

The programme is designed to develop skills in areas such as leadership and management, sales and marketing, so that participants are able to tackle these challenges head-on while growing their business.

SMEs can also now apply for grants of up to £5,000 to help them access new technology, as well as professional advice, to get back on track after the coronavirus lockdown.

The grants will be administered by an applicant’s local Growth Hub, led by the Local Enterprise Partnership, and will be available to help SMEs access specialist professional advice, such as HR, accountancy, legal, financial, IT and digital, and help them purchase minor equipment to adapt or adopt new technology, in order to continue to deliver their business activity or diversify.