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Shops: Community Development

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if his Department will take steps to safeguard the role played in local communities by independent locally-run shops. (148965)

The Government recognise the importance of small and independent shops to vibrant and sustainable communities. We are also aware that there are concerns over the future of small and independent shops, particularly in the face of competition from large retailers. The Competition Commission currently has an inquiry underway into the grocery market, and is expected to publish its report in February 2008, well within the statutory deadline.

Small retailers can access the same support and advice as any small business. Driven forward by my Department’s Enterprise Directorate, we are continuing to improve and build on the delivery of services through the Business Link brand. Business Link provides the information, advice and support needed to start, maintain and grow a small business.

In addition, the Government’s Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI), which is sponsored by this Department, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and HM Treasury, is seeking to boost the local economies of England’s most disadvantaged communities through enterprise development and investment. LEGI provides local institutions and communities with the authority and freedom to best determine local needs, options and solutions for enterprise development, which can include any that may be identified around local retail development.