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Business Support

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Ian Pearson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Effective business support can help individuals realise their entrepreneurial potential, help businesses start and succeed, and help communities prosper and flourish, whether the economic climate is stable or uncertain.

Most support is provided by the private sector, but where there is market failure it is appropriate for the Government to intervene.

Today I am setting out how the Government are simplifying publicly funded support to make it more effective, easier to access and value for money. Businesses have said they want a simpler system focused on their needs and this is essential in the current circumstances.

A single “Solutions for Business funded by government” package of measures includes:

Business Link as the main access route, offering impartial assessment and referral to bespoke packages of suitable support;

a single portfolio of 30 targeted support products and services shared across government for consistency—nationally, regionally and locally. This includes new and existing products, bringing together the best of government help. By March 2009 all will be in place, all underpinned by a robust economic rationale; and

a uniform look and feel to all Solutions for Business products, ensuring recognition and a sign of quality.

These measures will make it easier for companies—small and large, new or existing, starting or growing—to find the right products to help them with common business issues such as start-up, finance, export, skills, environment, innovation and growth.

The Solutions for Business package offers a long-term, sustainable remedy to publicly funded support and sets out the government offer to business. The products will be tightly managed, monitored and evaluated to ensure they continue to meet business needs and are effective, and the portfolio will be kept flexible and responsive to business need with new products added, or taken away, accordingly.

We envisage that as a result of these measures business will benefit by up to £1.4 billion per year as products work harder for them alongside £1.5 million per year in saved search costs.

To support this announcement the Government are publishing:

Solutions for Business: Supporting Success, which explains the new approach and the range of business support products and services that become available between October 2008 and March 2009; and

The Economic Drivers of Government Funded Business Support, which sets out the business case for each of the products and how business support can contribute to improving UK productivity.

Copies of the documents will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website at www.berr.gov.uk.

These measures take forward the commitment made by the Government in Budget 2006 to simplify the current publicly funded support framework by 2010 to give business customers a better service. Better business support underpins our strategies to make the UK the world’s most enterprising economy and will reinforce the wider steps the Government are taking to help business at the present time. It will also help the Government achieve social and environmental goals, widening inclusion and helping companies go green.