FPB welcomes shake-up of business support schemes

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is welcoming the government’s plans to simplify the support it offers to small businesses.

The aim of simplifying business support is to make it easier for all companies to find the right products to help them with common business issues. These include starting up, growth, finance, export, skills, innovation and the environment. Business Link will oversee the administration of the new services.

‘Solutions for Business’ has been developed following extensive consultation with the FPB and other small business organisations. The new products will be launched by March 2009, and will initially focus on training, grants, international trade, international markets and direct foreign investments.

“The FPB welcomes the announcement that the government’s Business Support Simplification Programme (BSSP) team have been able to meet their target for a simplification of business support delivery mechanisms,” said Phil Orford, the FPB's chief executive. “As a small business membership organisation, we believe that a simplified structure for business support will make it easier for business-owners to find the right help at the right time. The FPB acknowledges that over the last three years a great deal of work – at every level of government – has gone into this programme.”

Orford added: “We hope this transfers to an effective and smooth roll-out of the changes. Even more importantly, the FPB and our fellow small-business representative organisations need to take an active role in ensuring the government’s support from now on remains focused and relevant to the needs of small businesses – our members.”

The reaction comes in response to a recent speech at the Northern Regeneration and Renewal Summit in Manchester, where the secretary of state for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Peter Mandelson, said: “It is our vision to make the UK the most enterprising place in the world, but we are aware more can be done to create the right environment for enterprise.

“Publicly-funded business support – advice, loans and grants – can help individuals realise their entrepreneurial potential, businesses start and succeed, and communities prosper and flourish,” added Mandelson.

FPB member Tim Rhodes, of Skypark Freight in Liverpool, said that the government must now turn its attention to removing the burden of regulation by forcing banks to restore lending to small businesses to 2007 levels.

“Any streamlining of the products available to small firms is good news,” said Rhodes. “What would really help is forcing the banks to lend money to small firms and, if necessary, guaranteeing a percentage of any loans. Further to this, another cut in interest rates would also be of great help.”

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