Expert panel from across business & industry announced for Covid recovery grant as entries exceed 11,500

Simply Business, one of the UK’s biggest providers of small business insurance, today announces the members of the judging panel for its Business Boost initiative – designed to help UK SMEs rebound from the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Business Boost judging panel includes a range of representatives from across UK business and industry. Included on the panel is leading British businessman, investor and former star of TV’s Dragon’s Den, Piers Linney.

Piers is joined by Lee Wilcox, CEO of Electric House – one of the fastest growing social media and publishing groups in the UK, and Tony Robinson OBE, a microbusiness campaigner and founder of the #PayIn30Days campaign.

Completing the panel are Anneka Hicks, Founder of ExcludedUK, a support group campaigning for the 3 million people excluded from the UK government’s coronavirus support schemes, and Alan Thomas, the UK CEO of Simply Business who has been in post since December 2019.

This panel will collectively review the entries to the Business Boost initiative. As of today, over 11,500 UK small and micro businesses have applied to the initiative that Simply Business developed with the aim of assisting one entrepreneur on the road to business recovery with a grant of £10,000.

Simply Business, who provide insurance to over 700,000 small businesses and landlords, launched Business Boost after carrying out extensive research of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and related economic lockdown.

Taking place in May 2020, the research surveyed 3,700 UK SMEs and included amongst its key findings:

  •       On average, the Covid-19 crisis had cost the average UK SME  £11,779 in lost revenue
  •       This equates to a total economic hit of £69bn across the UK’s 5.8m small businesses
  •       67% of UK SMEs were forced to temporarily close during the UK lockdown
  •       41% of SME owners fear that their business is at risk of permanent closure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
  •       234,000 SMEs have already closed in 2020 as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Piers Linney, comments: “It’s an honour to join the Business Boost panel and to work with Simply Business on this much-needed initiative. It has been a hugely challenging period for anyone trying to start, run, or grow a small business in the UK, and it’s essential that this community receives all the support it can get.

“Initiatives like Business Boost can provide UK SMEs with a lift on the road to recovery, and it is crucial that we champion initiatives such as these as we try to return to some semblance of economic normality.”

Anneka Hicks, Founder of ExcludedUK comments: “It is hugely encouraging to see an initiative such as Business Boost prove to be such a success in these difficult times. At ExcludedUK, we’ve been doing everything we can to build awareness and provide support to the many individuals who have fallen between the cracks when it comes to the support provided by the various Government schemes.

“By recognising the issues faced by SMEs, and providing them with a platform to tell their story, Simply Business are demonstrating that they understand the range of challenges this period has thrown up to business owners. I’m really proud to be a part of this and look forward to working with my fellow panellists to crown a worthy winner.”

Tony Robinson, OBE comments: “Simply Business have always shared my desire to recognise the contribution of small and micro business owners and every self-employed person to the economy, job creation, innovation and community support.

“This Business Boost Award provides this recognition and it also provides a major financial boost to one entrepreneur. All entrants are winners but the recipient of the £10,000 will be someone whose progress we can all follow as they lead the bounce back on behalf of millions that have been battered and bruised during lockdown.

Lee Wilcox, CEO of Electric House comments: “At Electric House, we’ve built the world’s largest construction community – On The Tools. As such, the impact of the coronavirus on the self-employed within this critical economic sector has been crystal clear to us.

“We are delighted to work with our long-term partner Simply Business to promote the Business Boost initiative as we all try to help UK SMEs start the journey on the road to economic recovery.”

Alan Thomas, UK CEO of Simply Business comments: “This month marks the countdown to the 28 September deadline for UK small businesses to apply for our Business Boost initiative.

“Through speaking to our customers and conducting research, we fully appreciate the devastating impact of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown on the self-employed. That we have had over 11,500 applications shows just how important it is to support UK SMEs as they look to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

“As the country attempts to recover economically, we hope that our Business Boost will provide one small business owner with a significant financial helping hand. And we know that small business success will be crucial if we are to bounce back.

“Entries to our Business Boost initiative are open until Monday 28 September. A shortlist will be unveiled on 9 October, with the eventual winner expected to be announced in early November.

“Businesses looking to apply for the scheme to have their stories considered by the panel should visit: https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/take-the-leap before the closing date at the end of this month.”