HC Deb 01 April 2004 vol 419 cc1599-600W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken to reduce the barriers to start-up for small businesses. [163316]

Nigel Griffiths

The Government are working with its public, private and voluntary sector partners to help start-up businesses to address and overcome early hurdles and barriers to success through the provision of high quality information, advice and support. A range of new actions the Government are undertaking to help start-up businesses to overcome barriers are set out in the "A Government action plan for small business", which was published in January 2004.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice her Department offers via Business Link operators to small manufacturing businesses of fewer than 10 employees seeking to improve their internal business practice. [165120]

Nigel Griffiths

Business Link operators offer straightforward information on small manufacturing business needs, and access to a wide network of business support organisations. From April advice will be delivered via a new DTI Business Support framework based on four main customer themes. Technology and Innovation, Access to Finance, Achieving Best Practice and Regional Investment. Our goals are to make strategic investments in business support in order to help drive up productivity, to improve delivery of business support and to develop better customer relationships.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) has been highly successful as a source of practical help to manufacturers. The Department is keen for this success to continue. The Department is currently discussing the future development of MAS with the English RDAs and Welsh Development Agency, including the determination of future funding arrangements for MAS post March 2005. We are also discussing with RDAs and other stakeholders how best to ensure that MAS coordinates effectively within the new DTI Business Support framework, in particular the Support to implement Best Business Practice product (Product 10) that will be delivered through Business Links from April 2004. With emphasis on SMEs.