BIS figures reveal poor take-up of support services

May 21st, 2012 | 4 comments Source: BAD News

Just 1% of small and medium-sized businesses have ever used the Mentorsme website, new figures from the Department for Business (BIS) show.

According to February’s Business Barometer survey, usage figures had failed to increase since the previous poll in November 2011, while awareness of the scheme had crept up from 15% to just 17%.

The Business Link telephone helpline also saw its usage figures fall from 2% in November to 1% in February, with just 15% of respondents reporting that they were aware of the service.

However, the figures also revealed that despite the low take-up of the Mentorsme service, 12% of firms had used a business mentor – defined as “somebody with business experience who supports you through the development and running of your business on a continuous basis” – over the previous 12 months. These included specialist business mentors, friends and peers, professionals such as accountants and lawyers, and investors.

The Business Barometer survey excludes firms which started up since the Government’s 2010 Small Business Survey, and those with no employees.

Other key findings from the research included:

  • The Businesslink.gov.uk website had been used by just 5% of respondents to find out about finance options, and 1% for growth and improvement services. Less than 1% used the site’s ‘My New Business’ start up service.
  • Government guaranteed loans had been used by just 3% of respondents.
  • The Coaching for Growth programme had been used by 1% of respondents.
  • UKTI export support had been used by just 2% of respondents.

Read the “SME Business Barometer” in full.

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4 Responses to “BIS figures reveal poor take-up of support services”

  • Keith Powell

    As a Business Advisor with an Enterprise Agency I can only ask how long we have to hang on by our fingernails until someone realises that they were actually providing a service that startup businesses wanted to use and were good at it.

    It seems to me that grant money is for innovation not experience so we don’t get any Government assistance to do what we are good at as it goes to businesses with no track record of delivering such a service.

    Comment was posted on Monday, May 28, 2012 2:21 pm
  • Viv Leach

    The feedback about the level of use of the volunteer mentors indicates that this idea has not been as successful as the government had hoped. Is it the reticence of being mentored by bank managers rather than qualified and accredited Business Advisers?

    Maybe it would have been a better idea for business to have been signposted to Institute of Consultants (formerly IBC and IBA) to seek the support of a Member of the professional body with the credibility, experience, professional skills geared to meeting the needs of businesses. Not a free service. No such thing as a free lunch! Maybe its time to have a rethink about the usefulness of volunteer mentors by going back to the drawing board…. oh, sorry, money already wasted on setting this all up!

    Comment was posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:13 am
  • Edwin Deady

    Love the “nevertheless” which reminds of when I worked with Business Link years ago when failure was never recognised. If not many people are using a service then you are offering the wrong service.

    Comment was posted on Monday, May 21, 2012 3:25 pm
    • I agree with Edwin – people will vote with their feet. Yes the previous BL service did need an overhall but the current service I am convinced is there so the politician can say they are helping the SME.

      Comment was posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:19 am

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