HC Deb 17 October 1994 vol 248 cc148-9W
Mr. Alton

To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what advice his Liverpool office gives to small and medium-sized enterprises who wish to apply for objective 1 funding on finding a public sector partner; and how he reconciles this advice with the European Union's policy on whether private sector companies can receive objective 1 funding directly;

(2) what is his Department's policy on allowing small and medium-sized enterprises benefiting from objective 1; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eggar

Assistance available to small and medium Merseyside businesses includes help with premises, access to finance, strategic planning, training, technology transfer, industrial quality and design, marketing and joint venture arrangements. There are already a number of such business support schemes; the structural funds will be used to expand their availability, intensity and quality. They will also be used to bring forward new schemes, where there is a clear market need and value for money can be demonstrated. Structural funds grants will be paid to bodies administering the schemes, not direct to companies.

The single programming document adopted by the European Commission states Private Sector firms may apply directly to the programme (ie to the SPD Secretariat, in the Government Office) for structural funds support". Such applicants will be directed to the bodies which actually administer the schemes, including the training and enterprise councils business links—when operational—Chambers of Commerce, business associations and local authorities; for, as the single programming document continues, This will be appraised and administered through bodies designated by the Programme Monitoring Committee". Of course applications may also be made to the administering bodies direct.