Two more firms to receive business support from Government
The latest initiative to support small firms as part of the Government’s Business In You campaign has been announced by small business Minister, Mark Prisk. The support, which is in the form of a competition run jointly by the Government and the Guardian, will result in a total of two small firms receiving eight mentoring sessions and free advertising in the Guardian worth £15,000.
The announcement that the Government will provide support for two firms comes a day after it was reported that the UK had officially entered a double dip recession.
Mr Prisk has said: “We recognise that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are key to helping the UK economy grow. Business in You is a great way for entrepreneurs to find out how to access the support and advice that is already out there that can make their enterprise a success.”
According to the Guardian, in association with Business in You, the newspaper is offering two readers “the chance to make their business great with an amazing package of support, including £15,000 of advertising for their company in the Guardian and two one-to-one meetings with each of four business experts: Penny Power, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, Carl Hopkins and Mike Southon, all of whom recently took on voluntary roles as mentoring ambassadors for BIS.”
Although there do not appear to be any eligibility restrictions on the two firms who could win this support from the Government through the competition, part of the “fabulous support package” for the winners includes membership of the Institute of Recruiters and the £15,000 of free advertising in the Guardian would only appear to benefit those firms whose target customers are Guardian readers.
According to data collected for 2010/11 local enterprise agencies and related support organisations delivered face-to-face business advice and support to over 320,000 business start ups and small firms in the last year alone, with much of the funding for their activities being received or drawn down from regional Business Link or Regional Development Agency contracts.
That funding for face-to-face start up and small business advice has subsequently been scrapped entirely by the Coalition and replaced by enhancements to the £40 million per year Business Link website, the volunteer Get Mentoring scheme and the Business In You initiative, which asserts that every person in the UK has a business in them.
Despite recent government reports that 15,000 volunteer mentors have now received their half-day training on the Get Mentoring scheme or are registered mentors on the mentorsme website, there are still no official reports regarding the number of start ups or business owners who have received mentoring support through the scheme. In fact, several business professionals who have volunteered for the scheme told BAD News at the Business 2012 event in London last month that they have not had any enquiries or requests for mentoring support, and that during their training they were informed that it is the role of the mentors to find their own clients and provide them with one hour of free mentoring per month.
This latest Government announcement raises some important questions about current business support policy:
What are the targets to ensure the UK emerges from the double dip with more than two firms in the recruitment sector being supported?
What is the strategy and logic for the army of volunteer mentors with little apparent demand for their services, and little motivation for providing a mentoring service free of charge?
How can we increase capacity and re-engage our highly experienced local enterprise agencies and accredited enterprise practitioners – who are qualified to provide advice – to ensure we get nearer 500,000 start ups and small firms supported each year through practical face-to-face advice and training in order to re-ignite the economy?
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