Business support ‘complex’ and ‘out of control’ say Tories

Conservative Party Small Business Task Force sets out its vision for UK small business support.

By News Desk
13th May 2008 at 19:20

torytree The Conservative Party’s Small Business Task Force, chaired by Doug Richard, has attacked the government’s business support system and proposed a series of key recommendations.

One major area of inefficiency according to the report is in the 3,000 business support schemes being run by over 2,000 public bodies and their contractors at a direct cost of £2.5 billion. It also claims that a third of the money spent by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) is wasted on administration and never gets to business.

Key recommendations include: creating a single web-based business information service; extending the Enterprise Investment Scheme to include loans; establishing a small business innovation research programme; ensuring all government contracts to appear on a web portal, and; overhauling enterprise education in school.

Some of these recommendations are arguably already being implemented.  For all the criticisms levelled at it, Business Link’s web site is already on the way to becoming a single web-based information service. There have also been moves to open up government contracts by making them available online, the London 2012 Business Network being an example.

Seeking balance we sought the government’s point of view on the report this afternoon, but the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) was unable to comment before we published. Will update here, if we receive official response.

Update: good to see civil servants are on the ball after all, albeit (reassuringly) they can’t comment on the political aspects of the Conservative Party’s small business report.

A spokeswoman for BERR phoned SmallBizPod early this afternoon (Wednesday 14 May) to point out that:

The Government is streamlining business support and is on target to deliver a simplified system of less than 100 products by 2010.

We are already addressing many of the issues raised in the Richard’s Interim Report. As the final report was only published yesterday, we cannot comment until we’ve had more time to read it properly.

No doubt we’ll continue monitoring how this whole process develops. The practical ways in which businesses receive official support in the UK is vital. 

It remains a controversial issue.  Businesses of all sizes I’m sure would like to see government-funded support become more sensitive to their day-to-day needs. The politics is less important.

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