HC Deb 21 July 2004 vol 424 cc287-8W
Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken to evaluate the impact on skills of each of the business support products her Department launched in April. [183685]

Ms Hewitt

As part of its Review of Business Support, DTI carried out a review of evaluations of previous schemes and identified key success factors. This included assessment of the impact on skills, and on other drivers of productivity growth. The successful elements of previous schemes have been incorporated into the new business support products.

The new products are also subject to rigorous monitoring and evaluation, which includes measurement of the impact on skills.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the overlap between the provision of business support products administered(a) directly by the Department and (b) by regional development agencies. [185457]

Ms Hewitt

The complex array of more than 100 DTI business support schemes that existed at the time of the DTI Review in 2001 has been replaced with a tighter, more targeted package of support based on nine business support products. The Department's work to transform its support to business specifically looked at the issue of overlap and duplication and this was addressed so that the new product set are broad in their scope and avoid duplication. The Department's externally led Investment Committee continues to provide independent scrutiny to ensure our investments in business support products deliver the economic and customer benefits we intend, and that we take action to address any weaknesses identified through rigorous evaluation. This work extends to ensuring that there is no overlap or duplication in DTI's business support offering.

With regard to regional development agencies (RDAs), DTI and the RDAs are working together with the specific aim of avoiding any over lap on the provision of business support products. RDAs have committed themselves to ensure that any new business support schemes or initiative they create will not duplicate or overlap existing DTI business support products. RDAs will seek to build on national DTI products by co-funding and tailoring them to meet regional needs where possible.

Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many business support schemes are currently supported by her Department. [185491]

Mr. Timms

DTI has a set of nine business support products.

These are:

Support area Products
Succeeding through innovation Knowledge transfer networks Collaborative research and development Grant for investigating an innovative idea Grant for research and development Knowledge transfer partnership
Achieving best practice in your business Access to best business practice Support to implement best business practice
Raising finance Small firms loan guarantee
Regional Investment Selective finance for investment in England

Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public funding has been spent on business support agencies in the last year. [185475]

Nigel Griffiths

The main business support agencies funded directly by the DTI are the Business Link Operators (BLOs) who provide services to small businesses.

In 2003–04 BLOs received Core Services grants from the Small Business Service totalling £139.5 million.

Most BLOs sub-contract the delivery of some of their services to Enterprise Agencies and other service deliverers as do other Government Departments, RDAs, and local authorities. European funds are also available in certain areas. The level of funding varies from BLO to BLO based on local needs, priorities and access to additional funding streams. The SBS does not systematically collect information on the level of service provision sub-contracted by BLOs.

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