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News - 9 September 2006
David Frost, Director General, BCC

Business calls for closure of SBS

The British Chambers of Commerce has launched an appeal to have the SBS closed. The Small Business Service (SBS) was set up by the Government to support small businesses but has failed to achieve almost all of its objectives.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said businesses are unhappy with the ‘amateur approach’ of the government towards supporting smaller companies through its flagship SBS.

BCC research showed the majority of small firms believe the SBS has been ineffective at delivering on six of the seven themes contained in the government's action plan for small businesses (see previous story in Knowledgebase entitled ‘Government fails small businesses’).

More than three quarters complained there has been no improvement in building an enterprise culture, while 24% said it has actually declined.

Some 83% bemoaned the lack of improvement in access to finance for small firms with another 89% saying ministers have failed to encourage a more dynamic start-up market.

Most respondents also believed the SBS has failed to build the capacity for small business growth, improve small businesses' experiences of government services or develop better regulation.

The only area in which companies believed there has been a noticeable improvement was the government's pledge to encourage more enterprise in disadvantaged communities and underrepresented groups. And even the work in this area is flawed because there is no funding for on-going support once the business is set up. This may be a contributing factor in the increasing numbers of businesses going bust this year.

David Frost, BCC director general, said, "It is time to end the cycle of failure and underachievement in supporting small businesses. The SBS does not carry the necessary weight in government to achieve tangible improvements.

"The conclusion to be drawn from these findings is that businesses' experience of efforts to help them is not what it should be and radical reform is required.

"Businesses must be able to have confidence in the quality of the support offered to them and know that their needs are given due weight within government. Looking to the long-term, we need to develop regional and local solutions that are business-driven and business-led."

Read related items on:
British Chamber of Commerce
Frost, David

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