Business Link to be scrapped by 2012

Dan Martin
Former editor
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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 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 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. 


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By Escabri
02nd Nov 2010 14:26

So it's definately been decided by the Coalition Government to go ahead with it's idea to abolish Business Link. As I am being advized by a Business Link advizor at present I hope whoever, or whatever, replaces my advizor does a better job at advizing. I also hope the replacement does a far better job at granting my company much needed financial support.


Brian Hanson

ESCADON Social Creations(ENG) Limited.

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By betterlanguages
03rd Nov 2010 12:54

Am I alone in being dismayed by this announcement? No, not the scrapping of the regional service, I absolutely agree with that, but my experience of the national website, and current call centre has been extremely poor. So the Government is planning to keep the worst part of the service. That's great news for business leaders. Surely it would be much better to scrap this also, and to redistribute the money saved to LEPs, assuming they work.....

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By Dan Martin
03rd Nov 2010 12:57

Many people praise the Business Link website so it's interesting to hear you've had issues with it. Could you give us more details about your experience of the site?

Dan Martin

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By Stefan Drew
03rd Nov 2010 13:16

Business Link has cost £millions and I wish I could say that in my experience it was well spent .... but that is not my experience.


I have found BL somewhat lacking.  A few months ago they phoned me to follow up an enquiry I had made at their exhibition stand at an event I had attended ... good news you might think; except it was over 6 months after attending the event!


On other occassions I have asked for help and had people visit my business.  On each occasion they have promised to send on further information or get someone else to contact me ..... but I've never had any follow up whatsoever. 


So sadly I have nothing positive to say about BL .... except they are closing ... with their track record I suppose closing in 2012 is about as fast as it might happen!

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03rd Nov 2010 13:33

The Link, at great cost to all taxpayers lives on, despite the headline!

I did some testing of Business Link's NEW site, and it was genuinely the most awful thing that I have ever seen. It was so bad that I at one stage I thought that I had been hoodwinked and it was all a practical joke. A ghastly mishmash - the worst excess of a web designer having not one clue as to what anyone in business needs (sorry webdesigners it is not your all your fault, it is the typical problem that happens when there is a lack of communication and feedback in webdesign).

For example, the designer thought that an HR dept will have the same needs as a tax adviser...and that Companies House is the most important thing in all our lives, closely followed by Excise duties...

I was testing as an accountant/business user and I could not even work out where to log on to online services, there were about three or four ways around it.

What really disturbs me is the cost. If the govt really wants to save money why does it not ask people like me to design a fully functional site at a fraction of the cost?



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By kevpartner
03rd Nov 2010 13:40

I won't miss BusinessLink. As a government body it is far too focussed on the legal obligations of businesses (many of which don't apply to the smallest businesses anyway) and not enough on how to start and grow a business in practice.

I can honestly say that BusinessLink has contributed nothing to the starting or running of my four businesses. Good riddance.

-- Kevin Partner

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By Julie Stanford
03rd Nov 2010 15:42

... and you're not a woman, over 50, black or minority, ethnic, a graduate, a disabled person, on a low income, or just plain young...then don't bother clicking on the 'Starting a Business -- Meeting the challenges' link because, clearly, no other group has any kind of challenge.

I find the pigeon-holing on the new site very patronising. The old site used to be engaging and full of very comprehensive information. It's now so obviously following someone's agenda... but it's certainly not that of the business owning, or would-be business owning, user!

Julie Stanford | Essential Business

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By ladylaff
03rd Nov 2010 16:16

 Oddly enough, though I had previously never even heard of Business Link, I have had two separate small business owners recommend their services to me today.  In both cases, the owner was working directly with an advisor who had been very helpful and one has provided co-funding for marketing projects.  Although I accept people on this site have some negative experiences, I hope this isn't another case of babies being thrown out with bathwater.   

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By jamiecfc1
03rd Nov 2010 17:42

Oh good, a website and a call centre.. just like the good old HMRC.  I only hope, for the sake of anyone that's planning to use it, that its a substantial improvement on the HMRC's model - which consists of general answers to pretty much everything, and woe betide you if you happen to have a query that might involve not reading off a piece of paper.  Next we'll be told that the call centre is in Hungary, or some other far flung outpost, or maybe we're sharing with the French! 

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