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?SBS should be axed? ? British Chamber of Commerce

Date 17 Sep 2006

The Government’s Small Business Service (SBS) is ‘amateur’ and does not adequately support small businesses, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has claimed. The BCC’s Director General, David Frost, said: “Since the SBS was set up £79.3 million has been ploughed into it. In our view much of that money has been wasted: firms up and down the country have suffered six years of failure on enterprise policy and despite many warm words from a long line of government Ministers tangible support for small firms has been woeful.” The SBS is responsible for delivering the Government’s action plan for small business under seven themes. However, the BCC believes the SBS has failed on six of the themes. Statistics from the BCC show that 83% of businesses have seen no improvement in the UK’s enterprise environment and almost a quarter have seen a decline; 53% think that the capability for small business growth has stayed the same, whilst a third think it has worsened; and more than four out of five businesses do not believe that it has got easier for small businesses to access finance for growth and a third believe it has become more difficult. However, 30% of firms believe that enterprise in disadvantaged communities and amongst under-represented groups has been encouraged, resulting in tangible improvements.Mr. Frost said: “It is time to end the cycle of failure and underachievement in supporting small businesses: the SBS does not carry the necessary weight in government to achieve tangible improvements. The conclusion to be drawn from these findings is that businesses’ experience of efforts to help them is not what it should be and radical reform is required. “Businesses must be able to have confidence in the quality of the support offered to them and know that their needs are given due weight within government. Looking to the long-term, we need to develop regional and local solutions that are business-driven and business-led.”

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