HC Deb 01 July 1986 vol 100 cc464-5W
Mr. MacKenzie

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effect on the cash flow of small and medium sized firms falling within the Bolton definition of companies of the four-month moratorium of Government grants to them; if he will now abandon the moratorium; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Morrison

No formal assessment of the effects on firms of the moratorium on payments of old-style regional development grants has been carried out. While the moratorium has the effect of delaying receipt of grant by four months, many applicants will be able, if they wish, to borrow money on the strength of the approval letters which are issued in the normal way but four months before the actual payment. There are no plans at present to lift the moratorium.

Mr. MacKenzie

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many small firms, by Bolton committee definition, he has assisted by regional development grant, selective financial assistance or any other financial assistance in the course of the last 12 months to the latest convenient date; and how much money was involved in each region of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Morrison

The table sets out the schemes of assistance for which information on support for small firms is available. Except where indicated the Bolton committee definition of 200 employees has been used. Information on the amount of assistance by region could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Assistance Number of firms assisted Amount £ million Period
Regional Development Grants* 2,085 50.8 1985–86
Regional Selective Assistance 449 23.8 1985–86
Support for Innovation 482 32.6 1985–86
Business Improvement Services
(1) Direct aid to small firms 4,883 18.9 November 1984 to March 1986
(2) Aid for organisations providing services and facilities for small firms 195 3.8 November 1984 to March 1986
Small Engineering Firms Investment Scheme
(1) SEFIS I 143 2.7 1985–86
(2) SEFIS II† 401 5.9 1985–86
Business and Technical Advisory Services
(1) Support for Design 1,600 5.4 1985–86
(2) Support for Productivity 2,800 5.6 1985–86
(3) Support for Quality 400 1.6 1985–86
Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme‡ 398 12.9 April 1985 to September 1985
* Figures are only available for the new regional development grant scheme which was introduced in November 1984.
† Figures given are for firms with up to 500 employees.
‡ Responsibility for this scheme was transferred to the Department of Employment on 1 October 1985. The figures relate to the number of guarantees given and the total loan value. In addition, in the six months period covered the small firms service handled some 127,000 inquiries and 17,500 counselling sessions.


The figures given for regional development grant and regional selective assistance are for England only.