§ John Healey
My Department is committed to working actively with everyone who shares our aim of building a competitive economy and inclusive society. Small businesses have an important contribution to make to achieve that aim and my Department has regular communications with them both directly, for example with the ICT Industry Club where half of the 150 members are small businesses, and through organisations such as the Learning and Skills Councils, the Small Business Service, Regional Development Agencies and many other national and local organisations. We also run an online forum for small businesses that offers direct access to my Department for all small businesses; the forum is at www.business.dfes.gov.uk.
The new employer-led Sector Skills Councils licensed from 2002 will lead discussion with Government about skills and productivity in their industry or business sectors, including the needs of small business. The purpose of this discussion will be to develop effective policies and provision that better meets the needs of employers to drive up competitiveness and business effectiveness.