Business Link survivies the government website cull

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David Cameron has announced plans to bolster the the growth of small businesses with a raft of assistance, including support to get unemployed people into self employment.

There will be a new Enterprise Allowance launched later this month in Merseyside and rolled out nationwide from Autumn. It will give people who have been unemployed financial support for their early months of self-employment, access to a start-up loan, and an expert business mentor to help guide them through the early months of their business.

To qualify for the loan applicants will need to put together a business plan and secure the backing of their mentor that the plan is viable.

Business Link Overhaul

Business Link is the second most expensive government website costing the country £2.15 for every person that visits it. There was a question mark over Business Link’s survival, but the site will be revamped with new tools including:

  • A Business Startup Hub, including access to online company registration.
  • Notification of public procurement opportunities through a “Contracts Finder”.
  • A business tax ‘dashboard’ enabling businesses to get set up for tax and keep up with their tax position.
  • Better, clearer information on Government regulation.
  • New training services and online tools for business to use on the move from their own computer or handheld.

There will also be a national contact centre to help businesses find information they need on the web or who are not connected to the internet and a network of at least 40,000 experienced business mentors.

The part really I’m not convinced about is the public procurement opportunities. Regardless of how easy it is to find them dealing with government has never been easy, even less so than for a new startup. Whilst it may be useful for those with previous experience of government procurement for a new business it’s fraught with difficulties.

On the positive side I’m personally pleased that Business Link will survive. I know countless businesses that they’ve assisted and although around the country their service varies in general many of the advisors that work for them are top class.

There’s no doubt in my mind that small businesses and self-employment is the area with the biggest potential for growth in today’s economy. The big question is how easy it will be to persuade the unemployed to take the leap of faith into working for themselves when many will have only ever worked as employees in the past?

10 Responses

  1. Another one dodges the bullet.

    My experiences with Business Link have been uniformly rubbish, but the standard of service might vary wildy across the country.

    I don’t know how much this whole thing costs: I suspect it’s a drop in the ocean.

    If the coalition were serious about small business, it would reduce those taxes which disproportionately hit smaller businesses:-
    – Business rates (space, not profits)
    – VAT (turnover, not profits)
    – Payroll taxes (jobs, not profits)

    And stop trying to reduce Corporation Tax: the tax on profits.

    Of course the reason it can’t do that is larger businesses will go offshore if they have higher Corporation tax rates: the immobility of most smaller businesses makes them ripe for the tax harvest.

  2. I think helping people start their own business and becoming self employed is an excellent idear. I personally prefer to work for myself than be employed. In the 1991 reccession I was out of work for 2 1/2 years so I know what its like to be unemployed. My mistake then was I was waiting for someone to give me a job, which took 2 1/2 years to come.

  3. In the 1990s I produced video films that promoted and explained the original Enterprise Allowance Scheme. They were shown at Job Centres across the country and featured successful businesses started by people who had previously been unemployed. I believe the scheme was an innovative way to encourage and assist self-employment as a viable alternative to unemployment. My Enterprise Allowance videos can now be freely viewed on my YouTube channel:

  4. lots of the people are gaining goverment support already and are already “self employed” but claiming benefits , its a way of making many legitimate

  5. Did Brian Scooter, one of the founders of Stagecoach get the original 1980’s goverment scheme? I know he started of with one bus in Scotland and look at him now.

  6. Business Link is just another talking shop which exists for the benefit of those who work for it.
    If the government really wanted to help small business they would increase the vat threshold for small retailers to at least 100k so they can make a living wage and have some chance of competing with the conglomerates

  7. “If the government really wanted to help small business” – they don’t.

    “competing with the conglomerates” – can’t have that.

    Small business serves the function of creating the great ideas that big companies can steal so a small business sector is very very important. Small businesses create all the great ideas so you have to keep them small so that they can create more great ideas. The corporatocracy is just being kind to small business, they don’t know what’s good for them, ask Winston Smith.


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