Have you used a Business Link adviser? From November this year, no-one will be able to do that. The government has decided to scrap that side of the business, retaining only a new Business Link website for online information.
A government document released this month recognises the importance to the economy of small businesses, but believes that the current method of delivering support through Business Link is not effective enough. It doesn’t give enough value for the public money that pays for it.
The paper states that ‘the best advice for business comes from other experienced business people’. So support will still be provided locally, but by volunteers instead of paid advisers. These will be accessed online through a ‘Mentoring Gateway’ online.
National Telephone Contact Centre
Over 20% of small businesses are believed to operate without web access. Any who can’t find what they need online, will be able to get help or find out how to get it on a national telephone number.
Encouraging New Businesses
A range of other measures are planned to encourage a greater proportion of the population to become self-employed, including a continuation of the National Enterprise Allowance (NEA) for unemployed people who come off benefits to start a business. They will also provide specific support for aspiring entrepreneurs leaving military service, women and people in minority ethnic groups. And they are liaising with social housing landlords to find ways to allow and assist new home-based businesses in their premises.
Encouraging Small Business Development
Established small businesses will be selected for the Business Coaching for Growth programme, to help them achieve their potential and their development ambitions.
What About Now?
So we know about the government’s plans. But 2011 is an interim year in which little of this is in place, while current support systems are dropping away. It’s more important than ever to use your outside bookkeepers to help you keep up with developments and keep your business on-track.