§ Mr. Bowis
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the measures taken since 1979 to support small firms.
§ Mr. Leigh
[holding answer 29 January 1993]: The measures of support for small firms operated by my Department, together with the original dates of commencement, are as follows:
- the Enterprise Initiative Consultancy Scheme (commenced January 1988);
- the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme (commenced June 1981);
- the Small Firms Merit Award for Research and Technology (commenced early 1988);
- Support for Products Under Research (commenced February 1991);
- Regional Enterprise Grants (commenced April 1988);
- the Export Marketing Research Scheme (commenced 1969);
- Your Business Success (commenced August 1987);
- Graduate Enterprise (commenced November 1985);
My Department also provides funding for development work which aims to benefit small firms and produces a wide range of publications aimed at small businesses.
In 1985 the Government launched the deregulation initiative which aims to reduce burdens on business, particularly small firms.
During 1993 my Department will start support for up to 15 pilot schemes which will provide businesses with a single point of access to information and advice.
From April 1993 my Department will take over responsibility from the Employment Department for funding training and enterprise councils (TECs) to provide a wide range of business support services to help small businesses.
In addition, small businesses can, of course, take advantage of other business support programmes provided for firms of all sizes and by other Departments.
For example, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food runs the farm and conservation grants scheme, which provides grants for renewal or replacement of certain capital items to eligible businesses.
Under the action for cities initiative, the Department of the Environment provides grants and loans to eligible small businesses for a variety of purposes.
The Defence Research Agency, an agency owned by the Ministry of Defence, recently launched "Pathfinder" which encourages industry to come forward with research proposals that meet both the Ministry's needs and firms' own research priorities.
The Rural Development Commission provides assistance to small businesses in certain geographical areas. For example, grants are available to eligible businesses in priority locations for converting disused and redundant buildings into premises for providing jobs, or for ensuring that the infrastructure is adequate for work space; and small amounts of grant are also available for marketing consultancy and for attending trade shows and exhibitions.