The Government published its plans for a number of changes to Government funded business support this week. Headlines are:
- The regional Business Link service will end in November this year;
- A national website and national contact centre will comprise the new Business Link offer;
- An Enterprise Allowance scheme is to be created to stimulate enterprise among those out of work; and
- A national network of 40,000 business mentors is to be created bringing help direct from those succeeding in business to those with ambition.
The full document can be seen here.
It’s clear that with public finances being as they are, a dramatic reduction in the availability of business support was inevitable. Many of these changes will be welcome: business mentoring, delivered effectively, has long been recognised as an indicator of future business success; and many of today’s business owners were originally supported by the enterprise allowance. There are also commitments for specific support for businesses considered to have high growth potential.
However, the changes to the Business Link service will mean that the bulk of businesses will now have to join a self service queue, and the financial support that the North East in particular has capitalised upon will be vastly reduced. Also, creating a network of 40,000 business mentors is a huge challenge if they are to offer genuine added value.
One of the most troubling elements isn’t specifically referred to in the statement – the expectation that the national call centre is to be operated by the Department for Work and Pensions, which seems a somewhat unnatural home for a service geared to foster enterprise and business growth.
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