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Business Debtline launches new programme to tackle finance skills gap

Business Debtline's Building Up Business programme, supported by Aviva, aims to build small business owners’ financial resilience.

Posted June 13, 2024

Business Debtline has launched a new programme, supported by Aviva, to tackle the financial skills and confidence gap faced by many small business owners.  The charity’s Building Up Business programme, which draws on Business Debtline’s expertise as the UK’s Centre of Excellence for business debt, aims to build the financial resilience of small business owners across the UK.

Findings from the charity highlight the challenges small business owners who contact the service face.

  • Half (51 percent) of Business Debtline callers surveyed were not confident in constructing a business plan before trading.
  • Two in five (40 percent) did not feel confident calculating cash flow and profits.
  • A third (35 percent) did not feel confident putting together a business budget.

As part of the programme, Business Debtline is working with the University of Bristol to carry out major new research on the skills and confidence of lower-income small business owners and the challenges they face navigating their business finances.

Findings from the research will be used by Business Debtline to pilot a free, virtual learning resource for small business owners, and provide additional support alongside their existing free debt advice service.  The charity will also make recommendations for government, lenders and the wider sector on improving support for lower-income small business owners to close the small business finance skills gap.

Business Debtline is calling on organisations with insight and expertise into the difficulties navigating small business finances, to share their views on how to tackle these challenges and improve finance skills support.

Steve Vaid, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity behind Business Debtline, said:

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and financial skills and confidence often play a key role in the viability of a business.

“Every day, our Business Debtline advisers support people working to make their small business as successful as possible.

"But a lack of access to the right support to navigate often complex business finances can hold a business back and put them at increased risk of financial difficulty.

“At Business Debtline, we’re in a unique position to understand and help tackle this challenge.

“This exciting new programme is aimed at closing the skills and confidence gap that many small businesses face, and to look at what we and others can do to help them thrive.”

David Schofield, sustainability director at Aviva, said:

“Building financial resilience is critical for SMEs up and down the country and this important research from our partner, the Money Advice Trust, will help develop the skills necessary to navigate the changing economic environment.”

In 2023 Business Debtline helped over 36,000 small business owners in financial difficulty.  After advice from the service’s expert advisers, eight in ten clients saw their debts reduce or stabilise and nine in ten felt better at business budgeting.

The Building Up Business programme forms part of a wider partnership with Aviva, which is providing funding to Business Debtline to help the charity support more small business owners in financial difficulty deal with their debts and manage their finances with confidence.

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