HC Deb 08 January 2002 vol 377 cc696-7W
Dr. Kumar

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what structures exist to facilitate communication between his Department and small businesses. [21805]

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Meeting the changing needs of small businesses will be critical if we are to succeed in maintaining economic growth and providing people with greater opportunity through work. We are very keen to listen to the views and ideas of small businesses to ensure that we succeed.

The National Employer Panel is an employer-led body which provides independent advice to Ministers on the design, delivery and performance of our welfare to work services. Three of the Panel's members are from the small business sector. The Panel also has a sub-committee on small business issues.

In addition to these formal arrangements, the Department works with the small business sector through a range of initiatives and forums. Small businesses participate in the Employer Coalitions we have set up in several major cities and in the many New Deal Steering Groups up and down the country. Their participation helps ensure that our approach to helping people back into work is responsive to the needs of small businesses.