Business Link, the free business advice and support service, available online and through local advisers, is under fire. It’s the second most expensive government website to run costing £2.15 for every person that visits the site.
The government are undertaking a review of the £94 million spent on developing and running just 46 websites in 2009-10 with an additional £32 million spent on staff costs. “The last government identified 794 sites still open and promised to close 422 of them. Only 24 sites have been reported as closed and more sites have since been discovered and so the present total number of government websites is 820″. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister has said “We will take tough action to get rid of those which are not up to the job and do not offer good value for money”.
The big question is with the governments emergency budget focusing on private business and encouraging entrepreneurship should Business Link be one of the websites to face the chop. Business Link are a mainly free to use source of information and their most valuable service is to identify what resources a business needs and then to connect them with external industry experts to fulfill those needs.
John Pemberton, MD of GMDC who trades on eBay and Amazon told us “Business Link were invaluable in assessing my business needs and they connected me with a business consultant who assisted in putting my business plan together. He then connected me in turn with Lloyds Bank, where with the business plan I was able to secure an Enterprise Finance Guarantee loan for £50k at the height of the recession. This secured the future of my business and allowed me to expand significantly more rapidly that would have been the case without Business Link”.
Business Link is more than just a website, it’s the only resource where all business related information is in one place. It’s independent and unbiased and most importantly it’s free to use.
Have you used Business Link in the past and what was your experience of them? Would you be sorry to see the service disappear or be amalgamated in a cost cutting exercise? The site may be expensive to run, but if it assists businesses start up and grow should this be one of the sites ring fenced and protected?