§ Mr. Knapman
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he is taking to encourage small businesses in the inner cities.
§ Mr. Fowler
Small businesses make a central contribution to the development of inner city areas and to the generation of new jobs. My Department already provides substantial support to encourage self-employment and to help small businesses to start up, prosper and grow.
I am now introducing new measures to extend our support within the inner city target areas.
Six additional inner city offices manned by the small firms service are to be set up, improving access to 40W business advice and counselling. Specialist counsellors will be appointed, to work in the local small business community, particularly with ethnic minority businesses.
A new fund of £600,000 per annum has been established, to be used to match private sector contributions to local enterprise agencies' projects specially designed to help inner city firms.
More encouragement, better training and advice for would-be entrepreneurs will be offered through more "enterprise days" in inner city jobcentres and a new training enterprise allowance scheme.
The flow of finance to inner city business will be encouraged by increasing the guarantee to banks for the loans they make to small businesses under the Government's loan guarantee scheme. This will be raised from 70 per cent. to 85 per cent. in the 16 inner city task force areas.
Greater emphasis on the option of self-employment will be included in YTS and the new training for employment programme.