New Small Business Charter programme to support small businesses hit by the pandemic

  • Thousands of small businesses and SMEs affected by COVID-19 will be able to access support to aid their recovery and growth post-lockdown
  • The Small Business Charter is partnering with business schools across England to launch the new Small Business Leadership Programme

We’re delighted to be launching a new, fully-funded programme for small business leaders to help their businesses survive and thrive throughout the post-COVID-19 period and beyond.

Delivered by the Small Business Charter in partnership with the Government, the Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP) will see small businesses join peer groups at some of the top business schools in the country, to develop stronger skills in leadership, innovation, operational efficiency, marketing and finance. This new scheme comes as part of a £20 million package the government are providing to help small businesses in the long term.

All business schools delivering the programme have been accredited by the Small Business Charter, a national accreditation awarded by small businesses to business schools who excel in supporting SMEs and the local economy.

Learn more about the programme and how it could help your business >

Many small business leaders, directors, and CEOs are feeling the pressure from COVID-19 and the related economic uncertainty. According to a recent McKinsey online survey of UK SMEs, 80 percent of small businesses reported their revenues were declining in June in 2020.

The practical syllabus of the SBLP will help business leaders tackle this uncertainty head on, with access to small business and management experts at some of the UK’s leading business schools. The Small Business Leadership Programme is free and fully funded by the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, and will both enhance small business resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and develop potential for future growth and productivity.

The short and focused programme will be delivered online through a structured course of eight 90-minute webinars over the course of 10 weeks and will provide the knowledge needed for businesses to tackle crisis situations. It will also give businesses the opportunity to strengthen their business network. Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to make informed decisions to boost business performance.

Find out how you can get involved in your area >

The Government has made up to £30 billion available to support economic recovery ahead of the Autumn and businesses can continue to draw upon a range of financial support during this challenging time, including loans, tax deferrals and cash grants. The SBLP will help businesses to bounce back from the impact of coronavirus and prepare for any future disruption.

Anne Kiem OBE, Executive Director of the Small Business Charter, has commented: “The effects of COVID-19 have been particularly damaging for small businesses and providing their leaders with the experience and knowledge to survive and thrive will be essential following the Coronavirus pandemic. While cash injections are important, for the long-term, business leaders will also need guidance to ensure they remain resilient and can continue grow throughout this period and beyond. Accessing experts from the world-leading business schools we have in this country will be an essential resource for businesses in the months and years to come.”

Michelle Ovens MBE, Chair of the Small Business Charter said: “Half of small businesses in the UK expect revenues to drop by more than a half following the Coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses are finding themselves under a huge amount of pressure from the complexities of opening up again, social distancing, protecting staff and customers, drop in footfall and spend across the board. This new programme is a fantastic opportunity with the greatest business minds to ensure business leaders can get the expertise and knowledge they need to recover.”

Paul Scully, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The strength of small businesses up and down the country will be vital as we begin to bounce back from coronavirus and re-build our economy. The Small Business Leadership Programme will help to equip small business leaders with the leadership and problem-solving skills they need to grow their firms in the wake of this pandemic.”

Find out if your business is eligible for the Small Business Leadership Programme >