Government urged to do more to help small business grow

24-08-2006

The government has come under fire over the level of support it gives to small businesses.

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on the Small Business Service (SBS) claims that while the service has had some success, it lacks support and information from other departments.

"Government needs a better appreciation of its impact on small businesses, and simpler performance management arrangements, if it is to achieve its aim – to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business," commented Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO.

Official support of small business has already been criticised as "confusing and inconsistent" by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) earlier this year.

In response to the NAO's report, Sir Digby Jones of the CBI said that it backed up what it has already said.

"The SBS doesn't have enough clout with, or cooperation from, other parts of government to properly deliver its objectives and it has no credible system to evaluate its success, or otherwise, on behalf of small business," he added.

According to the report, 150,000 small businesses had difficulty in raising external finances last year but the main government help scheme only aided 6,000.

Though praised for spending £2.6 billion annually on helping small businesses, the NAO said that a "complex framework" of departments and more than 3,000 schemes should be reduced and information spread better to the SBS.


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