Small Business – Two cheers for Byers’ plan

The government’s plans to create a new Small Business Service have won only a muted cheer from the profession.

Trade and industry minister Stephen Byers said the service was designed to be ‘a single gateway’ for access to government services including payroll support, advice on regulation and training.

The body will sit between the new Regional Development Agencies and the Business Links and Training and Enterprise Councils which deliver advice locally.

‘It will provide local marketing for services like modern apprenticeships, national traineeships and Investors in People,’ he added.

‘Think small first’ is the slogan behind the DTI consultation exercise, which was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors.

The English ICA acknowledged that the consultation paper was a step in the right direction, but secretary-general John Collier said the proposals did not add up to the £100m promised by the chancellor in Budget press releases. ‘Chartered accountants,’ he added, ‘were uniquely qualified’ to guide small businesses through the regulatory maze.

ACCA small business adviser David Harvey said the SBS structure was ‘generally vague’, but said the DTI appeared to have a genuine desire to take soundings.

The two institutes have been involved in a DTI working party to improve collaboration between accountants and local Business Links.

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