Tech update: Help to Grow Digital scheme to wind down

At the end of every month, Accountancy Age unpacks the newest developments from the world of accounting and audit technology, to help your practice make informed purchasing decisions. This month, we cover the latest from Microsoft, Sage, Xero, and more.

Help to Grow: Digital scheme to end, government announces (December 15)

The UK government has announced that its Help to Grow: Digital programme will close to new business applications for discounts on February 2, 2023.

“With take-up lower than expected, the government cannot justify the continued cost of the scheme to the taxpayer,” the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said in a statement on December 15.

“The decision has been taken to refocus efforts towards other support mechanisms for small businesses.”

The scheme originally sought to give 100,000 SMEs free technology advice and vouchers worth up to £5,000 to cover software costs.

But according to BEIS, the scheme did not have the expected take-up, with less than 1% of the available vouchers redeemed by SMEs.

TaxSheets to shut down operations following MTD ITSA delay (December 21)

TaxSheets, a provider of “ready-to-use” spreadsheets for sole traders and the self-employed, has opted to end trading operations in light of the latest MTD ITSA delay.

“Following the announcement of 19th December 2022, TaxSheets is no longer active,” the firm said in a statement.

“… as this site is built purely for ITSA MTD this announcement makes the service no longer sustainable and will be fully offline in early 2023.”

This is the fifth such delay that the MTD ITSA scheme has suffered, with the original launch date having been scheduled for 2018.

The TaxSheets statement added that the product’s return is unlikely, noting the “high risk” of investing when the launch is “so in doubt”.

Sage and Equifax unveil new partnership (January 18)

Global payroll tech firm Sage has announced a new partnership with Equifax, promising to help customers quickly apply for finance and work.

The partnership will utilise Equifax’s Verification Exchange solution with a view to automating financial and employment checks for UK workers when they apply for loans, mortgages and new jobs.

Aaron Harris, CTO at Sage, said the partnership will “make life easier for everyone” by automating processes, reducing admin, and speeding up decision-making.

Similarly, Equifax Workforce Solutions president Rudy Ploder said the move will “help people live their financial best”.

PKF Smith Cooper agrees multi-year Xero deal (January 16)

UK mid-market accounting firm PKF Smith Cooper has partnered with cloud-based accounting software Xero in a multi-year agreement through the PKF international network.

The global partnership means that Xero has become the preferred cloud accounting solution for PKF network member firms around the world.

“As a future-focused firm with ambitious plans, Xero has been instrumental in digitalising our accountancy services,” said Martin Gadsby, partner at PKF Smith Cooper.

“The future of accountancy […] will depend on the ability to seamlessly integrate industry-leading software like Xero into accounting practices.”

PKF Smith Cooper has several offices spanning the UK midlands, including Derby, Nottingham and Birmingham.

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