The departing head of the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, George Derbyshire, believes that scrapping the business advisory service could result in the Government’s flagship social reforms being undermined as funding and support for enterprise will be deemed inadequate.
David Cameron has previously spoken of his goal to use enterprise in order to improve areas of the country that are dependent on public spending, which have been effected by the public spending cuts. However, with the Government putting an end to Business Link, Mr Derbyshire believes that this goal will be hindered.
Mr Derbyshire says Business Link is “vital for a proportion of the population” and that the dramatic cuts the service were driven by “financial reasons” rather than long-term thinking.
George Derbyshire said: “Business Link is regarded as an expensive solution. I would like to think in a different financial environment we would be not be quite so reliant on the volunteer model as we are now. Volunteers don’t come for free.”
He added: “There are people who have the confidence and the skills to start up themselves and make a success of their business, and the confidence and skills to access online resources, and there are those that have access to friends and colleagues who can help them. But there is a substantial proportion that do need face-to-face help to build up their confidence and acquire skills and knowledge.”
Business Link costs £190m a year to operate and is used by around a third of all businesses. The Conservatives decided in Opposition that they would scrap Business Link, and the Coalition has now implemented those plans. Contracts will be terminated in November and the regional development agencies will close in 2012.
So where can start-ups go for guidance? Start-ups searching for help will be directed to the Business Link website, which currently attracts around 1.6 million visits a month. Time will tell if this is sufficient support for start-ups…
For more information, please visit www.milsted-langdon.co.uk
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