Growth Vouchers Programme

Growth Vouchers Programme

1. The growth of businesses directly participating in the programme. 2. Testing what works, increasing our understanding of how to encourage firms to seek advice, and of what types of advice and delivery models work best. This testing will be done using a randomised controlled trial.

UK-London: Business services: law, marketing, consulting, recruitment, printing and security

2013/S 084-142249

Prior information notice


Directive 2004/18/EC

Section I: Contracting authority

I.1)Name, addresses and contact point(s)

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
1 Victoria Street
Contact point(s): BIS, Enterprise Directorate
SW1H 0ET London

Internet address(es):

General address of the contracting authority:

Further information can be obtained from: The above mentioned contact point(s)

I.2)Type of the contracting authority

Ministry or any other national or federal authority, including their regional or local sub-divisions
I.3)Main activity

Other: Government Support to the Growth of SME’s
I.4)Contract award on behalf of other contracting authorities

The contracting authority is purchasing on behalf of other contracting authorities: no

Section II.B: Object of the contract (Supplies or services)

II.1)Title attributed to the contract by the contracting authority:

Growth Vouchers
II.2)Type of contract and place of delivery or of performance

Service category No 27: Other services
II.3)Information on framework agreement
II.4)Short description of nature and quantity or value of supplies or services:

In the Budget, the Government announced its intention to run a 30 million pound (GBP)programme in England to address a gap in the market for providing external business advice such as making a successful loan application to a bank or taking on an employee. This programme will test a variety of innovative approaches to helping SMEs overcome barriers to achieving growth and will run until end of March 2015.
It is widely accepted that appropriate use of external advice is beneficial to business performance, with firms that seek external advice more likely to grow than those that don’t. While this view is widely held, there remains a lack of robust evidence to support this statement as well as a lack of evidence about what kinds of stimulus might work best. Small firms are deterred from seeking advice because: (a) they dont know what is available, (b) it is difficult to know how advice would benefit them (c) they dont know who to trust and (d) they cant compare offer and price (and assess value for money).
This programme has 3 objectives:
1. The growth of businesses directly participating in the programme
2. Testing what works, increasing our understanding of how to encourage firms to seek advice, and of what types of advice and delivery models work best. This testing will be done using a randomised controlled trial.
3. Create a more dynamic and competitive market for business advice for small firms to overcome some of the problems of asymmetric information which currently exist.
The Growth Vouchers programme will fund advice for small firms in a way, which will test the impact of different ways of providing advice, targeting advice and types of advice. We will use the results from the programme to feed into future Government policy on business advice.
Funding is over two years, 10m pounds (GBP) in year one and 20m pounds (GBP) in year two. Our intention is to focus on those firms least likely to use advice. Micro businesses (sole traders or firms with less than 10 employees) and small firms (employing up to 50 people).
We are at an early stage of deciding what the programme will look like and how it will be delivered. As such we are interested to receive Outline Proposals to allow us to get more information from a whole range of organisations to help us decide exactly how the programme should be delivered and what type of advice is of most value.
The offer and advice services
Although the programme is at an early stage we currently expect the funding between 100 pounds (GBP) and 2,000 (GBP) to be available to firms to part fund the cost of taking external advice. Advice may be face-to-face, telephone based, online or a combination. In the first instance, we will target a small number of very specific areas that are barriers to growth.
These are likely to include:
i) Raising finance through cashflow and financial management and business planning
ii) Increasing sales through marketing strategy
iii) Reducing costs and winning customers by exploiting the internet and digital technologies
iv) Analysing business capabilities through skills audits and review of business strategies
v) Taking on the first employee
Further information on the range of advice covered in these headings will be provided separately.
Whatever the final programme looks like we will need a delivery system to distribute the funding available. This needs to be a system that:
1) Is easy to access and cheap to run
2) Ensures vouchers are used by firms who would not otherwise pay for advice (ensuring additionality)
3) Has rigourous anti fraud controls (while ensuring that this does not lead to an overly bureaucratic process)
4) Ensures the quality of suppliers
5) Allows businesses to buy advice from a range of high quality suppliers, locally and nationally
6) Signposts firms to other forms of help available (including other government programmes and free private and public sector support)
7) Collects user feedback on business advice services (e.g. similar to Trip Advisor or eBay) to allow firms to see what is available in their area and to compare price and quality
8) Ensures strong competition between suppliers
9) Creates business opportunities for small enterprises offering high quality advice (some of the suppliers should be small firms themselves)
10) Collects and reports data on recipients and suppliers for evaluation (including through the randomised controlled trial)
11) Can be manipulated as part of the randomised controlled trial as an ongoing beta test to try out different approaches. For example, having the ability to present different offers to randomised groups or to change the wording and presentation of these offers.
Further information
For all potential providers interested in this opportunity further information can be obtained via email at
Estimated cost excluding VAT: 30 000 000 GBP

This contract is divided into lots: no

II.5)Common procurement vocabulary (CPV)

79000000, 48000000, 66000000, 72000000, 80000000

II.6)Scheduled date for start of award procedures

II.7)Information about Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)

The contract is covered by the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA): no
II.8)Additional information:

Section III: Legal, economic, financial and technical information

III.1)Conditions relating to the contract
III.1.1)Main financing conditions and payment arrangements and/or reference to the relevant provisions governing them:

Staged payments upon satifactory completion.
III.2)Conditions for participation
III.2.1)Information about reserved contracts

Section VI: Complementary information

VI.1)Information about European Union funds

The contract is related to a project and/or programme financed by European Union funds: no
VI.2)Additional information:
VI.3)Information on general regulatory framework

VI.4)Date of dispatch of this notice:29.4.2013