Cheshire East Council is looking for 200 SME businesses to take part in a free programme to help them to adopt digital technologies, boost their productivity and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.
The Adoption of Digital Accounting and Payment Technology (ADAPT) programme will give businesses that sign up access to a dedicated knowledge hub with information about the technologies available, the benefits and how they can be adopted, as well as best-practice guides.
It will demonstrate to SMEs how these digital technologies can help tackle the problem of late payments through automating their invoicing and payment processes, so they get paid quicker and the overall debt burden is reduced.
A limited number of businesses that sign up to take part will also be selected at random to join an online event hosted by digital experts at Barclays Technology Campus, in Knutsford, and facilitated by industry experts, as well as to receive fully-funded business diagnostic and support.
Through the Digital Cheshire partnership, the council is also progressing plans for a separate series of digital masterclasses, with more details on how businesses can apply due to be announced over the coming months.
Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “It is estimated that more than £14bn is owed in late payments to the UK’s SMEs and the effect on such businesses can be huge – especially in the current climate as the impacts of Covid-19 continue to be felt.
“We are committed to supporting businesses to recover from the pandemic and are pleased to be able to provide this programme so that we can help businesses to boost their productivity and get paid faster.”
The ADAPT programme, which is provided to SME businesses by Cheshire East Council and is funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is open to SME businesses based in, or with a site in, Cheshire East.
Places are strictly limited to 200 and as part of the programme, businesses will be asked to take part in a series of before and after surveys.
Councillor Sarah Pochin, Cheshire East Council’s business champion, said: “Chasing money that is owed diverts internal resources and reduces the amount that can be spent building and developing a business.
“And since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the government restrictions, the issues around late payment have only been made worse, so this programme presents a real opportunity for SMEs.
“Places are limited and so I encourage SMEs to register their interest for this programme as soon as possible, so they can begin to take advantage of the wealth of information and best practice guidance available.”