The Conservative business minister has repeated the new government’s intention to axe Business Link’s regional offices which employ 1,600 advisers just as the new regional contract has been awarded to SERCO.
A final decision on the future of Business Link, which costs £190m per annum to administer, is expected in six to eight weeks after business minister Mark Prisk has reviewed the finances in the light of the Budget on 22nd June.
In the past he has suggested that regional offices will be replaced by local enterprise agences concentrating on start-ups and micro-businesses with half the funding for the first three years coming from central government and the other half put up by councils and the local Chamber of Commerce. After three years they would be expected to be self-financing.
They would be complemented by a series of “growth hubs” concentrating exclusively on businesses with high-growth potential perhaps along the lines of recently formed Innovation & Growth Teams.
Prisk is looking at the possibility of building on the success of the British Library’s Business and Intellectual Property Centre saying: “From talking to customers of the centre, we think this makes a lot of sense. The centre has specialist expertise, and it is accessible”.
Small firms would be able to get access to basic business information about government rules and regulations from a new website or mobile-phone application to replace the current Business Link website.
Prisk is dismissive of the Business Link service because he believes that it spends most of its time directing business enquiries elsewhere.
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