Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey has launched a £5,000 government grant scheme to help small businesses boost their cyber security.

Speaking at the Reform “Cyber Security: assurance, resilience, response” conference in London, Vaizey outlined how a new voucher scheme, designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses, will work when it launches later this month.

The voucher scheme is part of a package of initiatives designed to increase the resilience of UK businesses to cyber-attacks.

The package also includes a new online learning and careers hub to help ensure the UK has the cyber skills talent pool to protect both the public and private sectors as we face the reality of increasing cyber threats.

Vaizey said: “We want to help protect UK businesses against cyber-attack and make the UK safest place in world to do business online.

“The new voucher scheme will offer increased protection for small businesses, and the new online hub will help ensure we have the skilled workforce in place to manage the increased pressures of the digital age.”

The new UK £1m cyber security innovation vouchers scheme will offer micro, small and medium sized businesses up to £5,000 for specialist advice to boost their cyber security and protect new business ideas and intellectual property. The scheme will be overseen by the government’s innovation experts at Innovate UK.

As well as helping protect businesses from cyber-attack, the vouchers enable firms to access services from the UK cyber security industry. This new scheme will also help businesses to adopt Cyber Essentials, government’s flagship scheme to protect businesses online.

Kevin Baughan, Innovate UK’s director of technology and innovation, said: “The UK’s economy is increasingly underpinned by digital infrastructure, so cyber security is now a critical component. The schemes announced today will give cyber-confidence for businesses and consumers and will help our digital economy to flourish.

“The UK now has the opportunity to become a world leader in cyber security, creating the jobs of tomorrow and driving productivity and growth.”

The UK cyber security industry is strong and growing – worth £17.6bn and employs over 40,000 people – but more skilled people are needed to help protect the nation as the UK goes digital and adopts new technologies.