§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the achievements of(a) his policies and (b) his Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.
§ Mr. Alan Howarth
The Government have continued to place a high priority on helping small businesses, through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and other measures, and through specific programmes of support and assistance. The success of their policies is demonstrated by the latest statistics which show a record increase in the number of small businesses registered for VAT, of 1,700 a week during 1989. Over the decade the overall increase has been 373,000.
It was estimated that during 1989–90 the Department purchased goods to the value of £11.5 million—£6.1 million the previous year—of which some £4.2 million benefited small firms—£2.4 million the previous year.
Approximately 40 per cent. of our services—minor works, cleaning, transportation, and so on—continues to be provided by small firms.
Performance indicators and a computerised procurement monitoring system are currently being developed. Meantime this Department continues to operate a policy of including small firms on tender lists whenever an appropriate opportunity arises.