Business, Innovation and Skills
Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to provide assistance for small and medium-sized companies in the IT sector; and what steps he is taking to encourage IT-related contracts and requirements to be assembled into appropriately sized small, medium and large packages of work for delivery by the most suitably sized and skilled organisations.
Mark Prisk (Minister of State (Business and Enterprise), Business, Innovation and Skills; Hertford and Stortford, Conservative)
We want to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business, and for the next decade to be the most entrepreneurial and dynamic in Britain's history. That is why, on
Government are supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK in a number of ways:
Ensuring SMEs can access the support and advice they need to start and grow
We have transformed the way that we enable people to access the information, guidance and advice they need to start and grow a business. We have put in place a range of services including:
An improved www.businesslink.gov.uk website including: a new Growth and Improvement Service and ‘My New Business’, a comprehensive start-up service.
A Business Link helpline which will support those who are unable to access the internet.
A mentoring portal: www.mentorsme.co.uk providing an easy route to find experienced business mentors.
Started to introduce the new Business Coaching for Growth service, providing high quality coaching support for up to 10,000 SMEs a year with high growth potential.
A streamlined Solutions for Business support portfolio was announced in March 2011, targeted at help for business, for example on helping businesses sell overseas and dealing with technology developments.
Ensuring businesses can access the finance the y need
Ensuring the flow of credit to viable SMEs is essential for supporting growth and is a core priority for this Government. We want to ensure that the financial sector can supply affordable credit that businesses need, and we would like to see more diverse sources of finance for SMEs including, where appropriate, access to equity finance. Government have:
Launched the National Loan Guarantee Scheme: up to £20 billion of guarantees for bank funding will be available over two years allowing banks to offer lower cost lending to SMEs.
Increased the funds available to invest through the Business Finance Partnership (BFP) to £1.2 billion. Government have invited the first round of proposals to help businesses access non-bank finance through the BFP, and will allocate £100 million of the BFP to invest through non-traditional lending channels.
Continuation of the Government's Enterprise Capital Funds programme, increasing our commitment by £200 million over the next four years, providing for more than £300 million of venture capital investment to address the equity gap for early stage innovative SMEs.
Announced that we will pilot the best way to introduce a programme of enterprise loans to help young people set up and grow their own businesses.
Encouraging Business Angel investment through a new £50 million Business Angel Co-Investment Fund.
Welcomed the report of the industry review of non-bank lending chaired by Tim Breedon and will take forward its recommendations over the course of this year, including: considering how to simplify access to Government support for smaller businesses; encouraging prompt payment by larger firms; and supporting industry work to remove barriers to alternative sources of finance.
The Regional Growth Fund is a £2.4 billion fund operating across England from 2011 to 2015. It supports projects and programmes that lever private sector investment creating economic growth and sustainable employment.
Ensuring that regulation supports business growth
Introduced a “one-in, one-out” rule whereby no new regulations which impose costs on businesses can be brought in without regulation of an equivalent value being removed.
Introduced a three-year moratorium on new domestic regulation affecting micro businesses and genuine start-ups.
The Red Tape Challenge is tackling the stock of regulation via a comprehensive thematic review which aims to identify regulations that could be removed, simplified or done in a different way. By the end of December 2011 we had scrapped or simplified over 600 regulations.
Reforming the way in which regulations are implemented, including a review of regulators to ensure enforcement arrangements are appropriate and proportionate. Government will also launch sector-based reviews of regulation to ensure it is enforced at the lowest possible cost to business.
To reduce barriers to businesses taking on new staff Government have announced significant deregulation of employment law, including increasing the unfair dismissal qualifying period from one to two years.
Encouraging exporting SMEs
The Government will spend £35 million to double, from 25,000 to 50,000, the number of SMEs that UKTI supports a year by 2015. Many components of the UKTI product are aimed at SMEs:
Passport to Export is a trade development programme offering new and inexperienced exporters help and support to build the capability to start exporting proactively and make their first visit to an export market. Launched in 2001, it has helped around 14,000 SMEs as of January 2012.
Gateway to Global Growth offers experienced SME exporters the opportunity to increase their exporting skills and awareness of what is on offer from UKTI and private sector suppliers. The aim is to help them enter more difficult markets or expand in existing ones.
Market Visit Support provides assistance to new to export and/or new to market SMEs visiting overseas markets, individually or in groups as part of their trade development process.
Budget 2012 set out an ambition to more than double annual UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 through additional measures including expanding the overseas role of UK Export Finance to enable it to develop finance packages that could help UK exporters secure opportunities identified through UK Trade and Investment's High Value Opportunities programme; helping secure temporary private sector office space overseas for new UK exporters in high growth countries where such services are difficult to obtain; and continuing to increase UK Export Finance's regional presence in the UK to support SMEs seeking trade finance.