HC Deb 01 March 1996 vol 272 c755W
Mr. Morgan

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from small business organisations concerning companies purporting to offer advisory services about Government and European grants available to small businesses; what proposals he has to regulate the activities of such companies; and if he will make a statement. [18130]

Mr. Page

[holding answer 29 February 1996]: I have received representations from a number of hon. Members and from one small business organisation concerning companies offering advisory services about Government and European grants available to small businesses.

There are many reputable private sector providers of grant information in addition to organisations such as local business links in England, business connect in Wales, together with local enterprise companies and business shops in Scotland, which offer easy access to such information. However, I remain concerned about the activities of some grant consultants and the DTI is doing what it can to stop such practices.

Misleading claims made by sales people are a trading standards matter, and my Department is assisting trading standards departments in taking forward their inquiries. This is leading to direct action. For example, trading standards officers in Birmingham are pursuing inquiries under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 against a company known as Business Grants Advisory Group Ltd, operating in their area. My Department has also recently issued a press notice advising companies how to avoid being taken in by so called grant "cowboys" and how to find a reputable consultant.

I do not believe further regulation is necessary or desirable.

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