In an effort to "uncomplicate" the business support landscape the Chancellor has promised to reduce the number of schemes from over 3,000 currently to no more than 100 in the next four years.
Government funded business support services have come in for intense criticism from business groups including the influential CBI, which conducted research recently (see earlier story in Knowledgebase) that directly contradicted results from Business Link on customer satisfaction rates.
The Chancellor acknowledged that the plethora of services and schemes makes it a confusing picture for businesses that are seeking support to help them grow and expand. However, apart from promising a massive cut-back in the number of schemes the Budget gave no detail about how regional development agencies (which now have control of Business Link services) would restructure the network to ensure better service to businesses.
Ironically for a Budget that had promised to cut the number of schemes the Chancellor did give details of a new one starting in April aimed at giving structured coaching and mentoring services to high-growth SMEs. In the south east this may overlap with a similar service that is already offered by the Enterprise Hub network which has confused business leaders since it seems to be at odds with the stated intention of removing confusion and duplication.
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