HC Deb 28 March 2001 vol 365 cc653-4W
Mr. Rendel

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Newbury constituency, the effects on Newbury and west Berkshire of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [154576]

Mr. Caborn

[holding answer 20 March 2001]: West Berkshire has benefited from a broad range of initiatives that have been implemented since May 1997.

The Thames Valley Business Link

The Thames Valley Business Link receives funding from the Department to assist businesses at all stages of development. The Business Link also has an independent income stream. The Business Link covers both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Initiatives are aimed to reach groups of businesses that have shown a need for a more direct approach. It would not be possible to dis-aggregate the benefit for west Berkshire and the figures shown are for the whole region covered by the Business Link.

The Business Link's services are widely marketed and include the following initiatives.

DTI Funding for Business Link
Financial year £000
1997–98 2,288
1998–99 2,108
1999–2000 2,938
2000–01 n/a

Diagnostic Consultancy Service—This scheme is aimed at businesses to help them find and rectify problems within the company.

Farmer's Advisory Service—This scheme supports farmers to develop and manage their businesses. The rural nature of west Berkshire has led that area in particular to benefit from this initiative.

Business Advisory Service

The Business Advisory Service gives easy access to a wide range of quality business services, initial business diagnosis at no extra cost, impartial expert advice on business issues, and practical value-for-money support tailored to make the most of individual business potential.

Export Counselling Services—This was a scheme initiated in 1997 to aid local businesses to develop an export market. (Funds were in addition to those given.)

Financial year £
1997–98 52,500
1998–99 50,000
1999–2000 25,000

Other initiatives include:

British Trade International—a separately funded unit dealing with expanding the export and raising the profile of British goods abroad.

SMART awards—four west Berkshire businesses have been awarded funds to develop innovative technological ideas to improve their business.

The Berkshire Small Business Service

The Small Business Service will take over from the current Business Link in April 2001 and will deliver a sharper and more focused service by acting as a gateway to the wide range of services available to local businesses.