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Business: Government Assistance

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many loans he estimates will be taken out under the Working Capital Scheme in the next 12 months; and what estimate he has made of the average value of such loans. (252244)

The working capital scheme is not available directly to businesses. The scheme enables participating banks to increase the amount of working capital they can make available to businesses

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department is taking to support (a) manufacturing industry, (b) the retail sector, (c) small businesses, (d) motor traders and (e) business start-ups; and if he will make a statement. (254476)

The Government are taking a range of steps to help businesses through the current economic downturn to boost capital and liquidity in the market. This is across all sectors of the economy. Key measures include the reduction in VAT, the introduction of a new Enterprise Finance Guarantee to support up to £1.3 billion of bank lending, a separate £10 billion guarantee facility to support further working capital bank lending, a £75 million Capital for Enterprise Fund to convert businesses’ debt into equity and £25 million of regional funds.

There is also an extensive range of support for anyone considering starting their own business at:

On manufacturing, the Government launched their new Manufacturing Strategy in September last year. It focuses on what the sector needs for success in the long-term—including seizing the opportunities of the low carbon economy, supporting skills, realising overseas opportunities and improving the perception and understanding of manufacturing.

It builds on existing areas of support such as R and D Tax Credits, the Technology Programme and the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). MAS is monitoring the situation for small manufacturing companies and responding flexibly with suitable advice to help companies. We are also piloting increased support for MAS in the West Midlands.

In the longer term, we are ensuring that the policies within the Manufacturing Strategy work to bolster UK manufacturing and deliver the foundations of 21st century success such as world-leading R and D and a highly skilled work force.

The retail sector also has access to the package of help on offer. For example, 1,876 retailers/wholesalers and repair shops have, since October, benefited from a Business Link “Health Check”. This is just one of the many schemes that can be accessed via the portal at:

On support for motor traders, I refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made on the automotive sector on 27 January 2009, Official Report, columns 165-67.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much and what proportion of their budget was spent by each regional development agency on supporting (a) high technology businesses, (b) science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, (c) innovative procurement and (d) social innovation and social enterprise in each year since 2005. (258999)

[holding answer 26 February 2009]: The RDAs do not record expenditure as requested. Furthermore, to separate out this data would incur disproportionate cost.