Business Link to be scrapped by 2012
The regional elements of advisory service Business Link will be no more after April 2012, ministers have confirmed.
Releasing its local growth White Paper, the government said the £154m annual cost of running the support scheme for small businesses in England was "high" and the "generalist nature" of services has been "poorly targeted" at, for example, "so-called 'lifestyle businesses' with no aspiration to grow".
Adding that there are more "efficient, effective and targeted ways to use public money to provide the kinds of business improvement help that businesses need," the White Paper said a "greater prioritisation of government support is required, focusing only on those areas where it can really add value".
From April 2012, existing and budding entrepreneurs will be able to access advice through an improved www.businesslink.gov.uk website and a national call centre. The government is also working with banks and business groups on creating a nationwide business mentoring scheme.
Business Link has been subject to much criticism for many years with several attempts made by the previous administration to address the complaints and improve the service.
In opposition, the Conservative Party hinted that it would scrap the system and in June enterprise minister Mark Prisk confirmed that Business Link would indeed be abolished. A BusinessZone.co.uk poll of over 500 business owners found 61% believed the decision was a good one.
The Business Link regional programme is currently run by England's nine Regional Development Agencies which themselves have also been scrapped. They are to be replaced by new Local Enterprise Partnerships between local authorities and business groups.