Accountants were trying to decipher ministerial signals after small business minister Barbara Roche hinted last week that the government intended to develop a ‘broad business support strategy’ around its proposed Regional Development Agencies.
Addressing the Business Link national conference in Birmingham last week, Roche said local advice agencies would need to liaise with RDAs, which she expected would be up and running by the end of November.
Although the bill creating RDAs still requires a second Commons reading and royal assent, eight chairmen have already been appointed.
Former English ICA president Sir Michael Lickiss will chair the South-West RDA, but was unavailable for comment.
Professional accountancy bodies were approached by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to nominate potential candidates, said ACCA small business adviser David Harvey. Although none of ACCA’s nominees were appointed chairmen, there was still a chance they would be considered for chief executive posts to be appointed in the new year.
Baker Tilly partner Teresa Graham, a board member of the London South Business Link organisation, expected RDAs to liaise between local government and small businesses, but hoped the government would clarify its strategy in the forthcoming competitiveness white paper. ‘A lot of people in our profession and in small firms are waiting very anxiously,’ she said.
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