Regional Business Links to be closed by 2012
The Government has confirmed that regional Business Link support will end by April 2012
This news was out back in June but was confirmed in the Local Growth White Paper published last week. In the paper the government said the £154m annual cost of running the support scheme for small businesses in England was too high, overly generalist and was the poorly targeted. The White Paper said a “greater prioritisation of government support is required, focusing only on those areas where it can really add value”.
From April 2012, businesses will access advice through an improved www.businesslink.gov.uk website backed up by a new national call centre. This is very close to the structure suggested by the Richard Report (2008) commissioned by the Conservative Party in opposition.
The Business Link regional service is currently funded by the Regional Development Agencies which, it has already been announced, are also to be scrapped. They are to be replaced by new the Local Enterprise Partnerships between local authorities and business groups. The white paper suggests that these will deliver more localised business support focussed on specific needs.
Do yo have an opinion on the loss of regional Business Links? Is this bad news for businesses or a shrewd move for greater efficiency? Let us know via the comments box!