Press release

Small businesses aren’t aware of Government support schemes for manufacturers, says the IET

03 December 2014

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is calling on the Government to do more to build awareness of schemes to support manufacturing businesses among small and medium enterprises (SMEs). For example, 50% of SMEs are unaware of government reforms to apprenticeship schemes, while 56% do not know about the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).

The IET held a breakfast meeting with MPs this morning, ahead of the Autumn Statement to highlight the issue to Government.

Margaret Wood, who runs a small manufacturing business is one of the IET members leading the call. She said: “There is a plethora of schemes out there to help manufacturers grow their business, but many smaller businesses like mine are simply not aware of them.

“The temptation is to keep launching new schemes, when in reality it would be better to put this effort into marketing and promoting the schemes already out there.

“Similarly, renaming schemes is unhelpful as it means these schemes don’t become an established brand that SMEs recognise. SMEs are also unlikely to benefit from manufacturing schemes that offer short-term solutions as they need long term strategies and a consistent business environment in order to survive.”

Practical ways in which the government could help that were highlighted at the breakfast include:

  • Simplifying the application process and reducing long lead times, as SMEs lack the resource and time to fill out the complicated forms
  • Helping SMEs to form local communities that work together – and can help keep each other informed of what schemes are available
  • Making benefits of schemes clear – unlike larger companies, SMEs don’t have time and resource to explore support schemes in detail.
  • Introducing a local representative with successful case studies who can help to introduce SMEs to viable schemes.

Sahar Danesh, IET Principal Policy Advisor for Manufacturing, said: “SMEs are responsible for about 90 percent of the UK’s innovation so the Chancellor’s announcement this morning of renewed financial support for SMEs is very welcome. But it’s also crucial they receive the right business support.
“We need a clear business strategy on how to engage SMEs, making sure funding put into marketing support schemes effectively. At a time when manufacturing is coming into its own, it’s crucial to support SMEs so that they can improve their productivity.”

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.