Firms given the chance to make most of the web

streetwise Elizabeth Gullen''File photo dated 24/05/06 of a recent Scottish Power energy bill and money. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 15, 2009. Inflation slid to its lowest level in almost five years during August, official figures showed today. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell from 1.8% to 1.6% over the month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It was last lower in November 2004. Unchanged household ENERGY bills this year compared with big hikes 12 months earlier dragged down the rate of inflation, along with falling food prices, the ONS said. See PA story ECONOMY Inflation. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire PPP-171004-100100001

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Businesses are being offered up to £1,500 to improve their online presence.

The initiative is being led by the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, the Solent Growth Hub and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Hampshire Chamber chief executive Stewart Dunn said: ‘Although most small firms are online in some way, those with a real understanding of digital resources, e-commerce and search engine optimisation are far fewer.’

The Digital Capability Fund is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises to give them the opportunity to make more of digital resources.

With only half of small business having a website and only a third selling their goods online the fund is aimed at seeing more companies expand into the virtual world.

Solent LEP chairman Gary Jeffries said: ‘We are seeking to address the most common barriers small firms report about digital capability including skills gaps, confidence, lack of understanding of the benefits for their business, and judging the quality of support available.’

Recipients will receive a grant of up to £1,500 and a further package of support which will involve match-funding of investment in website improvements, social media and other digital tools.

There are also digital ‘clinics’, workshops and one-to-one advice.

These skills are to help those that aren’t making full use of the internet and maybe missing out on a huge opportunity to grow their customer base.

Denise Barlow, head of projects at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce said: ‘We have had more than 70 business apply so far and we want to help those businesses and many others to run better, cleaner and faster.’

Anyone interested in the fund and the help that is available will need to have their firm take part in a free digital health check from Solent Growth Hub..

For more information, visit solentgrowthhub.co.uk