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Small Businesses

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the achievements of (a) his policies and (b) his Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.

The Government continue to help small businesses through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and through specific programmes of support and assistance.Measures operated by the Department to assist small businesses include:

The Business Start Up Scheme (formerly the Enterprise Allowance Scheme), which provides an allowance and training/counselling support in the early months of trading to unemployed people who start their own businesses. Its performance is measured in terms of numbers taking up support and the survival rate of these businesses. Around 50,000 people were awarded an allowance in 1991–92, and just over 40,000 in 1992–93. Survey evidence has consistently shown that of those people completing the full term of Enterprise Allowance, approximately 76 per cent. were still trading 6 months later (ie 18 months after start-up).
From April 1991, Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) have been delivering the Scheme and have enjoyed considerable local discretion in its design and selection criteria. They have been placing greater emphasis on increasing the quality of the businesses they support in order to improve survival. Evaluation studies assessing the performance of the Business Start Up Scheme have recently been completed and are expected to be published in due course.
The Department makes significant funds available to TECs to enable them to support the development of small businesses. TECs provide a varied range of help including consultancy support, advice and guidance and training audits. TECs increasingly are linking this support to achievement of the Investors in People national standard. Action materials to specifically help small businesses achieve the standard have been developed. Investors in People sets a standard for the training and development of people to achieve business objectives—a vital requirement for business, regardless of size. Of the 307 organisations which have met the standard so far, 179 are employers with less than 200 employees. There are over 3,300 employers committed to achieving the Standard, including many small businesses.