Growth Vouchers

Small businesses that seek and obtain strategic business advice are more likely to thrive and grow. Advice can increase productivity, drive sales and improve the chance of survival in tough economic times. Yet as many as three in every ten small businesses in the UK may have an unmet need for business advice . And to date, available evidence does not establish a causal link between business advice and higher growth for small businesses. The Growth Vouchers programme is a pioneering government research project that aims to make it easier for small businesses to access expert advice to help them grow and test which types of business advice are most effective. The Growth Vouchers programme will run until March 2015 to attract around 20,000 small businesses that do not normally use advice. Vouchers worth up to £2,000 each will be given to a majority of the small businesses who take part to help them pay for advice. This programme will operate as a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT), which will enable the government to obtain a robust assessment of the impact of different types of advice on participating businesses. RCTs are widely regarded as the gold standard for empirical research and are used extensively in medicine and international development. This is the first time that an RCT has been run on this scale to explore what business advice works best. The Growth Vouchers programme will produce real and comprehensive evidence, while providing benefits for the businesses who take part. This evidence will be used to inform future policy.

Delivery partner 
Enterprise First
Hypotheses/research question 
Do businesses that are given a Growth Voucher perform better or worse than those not given one? Do businesses assessed online perform better or worse than those assessed face to face? Which of the five themes of subsidised advice creates the greatest return?
Study design 
Sanders, M. 2015. 'Growth Vouchers Programme'. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. GOV.UK.