Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (ES 16)
This note provides additional information on
points raised by Committee Members during the hearing of oral
evidence on 15 May 2002. The question references below refer to
those given in the transcript of evidence.
Responsibility for helping the unemployed, including
assisting them into self-employment, rests primarily with the
Department for Work and Pensions. Support is provided through
the New Deal, and also through funding of the Prince's Trust.
Access to the former is through Jobcentre Plus. In a number of
areas the Business Links work closely with the Jobcentres, placing
a business advisor in the Jobcentre on certain days of the week.
In this way people gain access to the Business Link network. In
addition, the Local Enterprise Agencies in some areas have been
contracted to deliver the self employed elements of New Deal.
As partners in delivering Business Link services, New Deal clients
are referred by the enterprise agencies on to the Business Links
for further help.
There are a number of routes available for people
to find out about the help to start-ups provided by Business Links:
either through the Small Business Service (SBS) web site businesslink.org,
or the Business Link national number (0845 600 9006), which will
automatically route them to their local business link operator.
The SBS does not have information on individuals'
awareness of Business Link services, either unemployed or otherwise.
The only awareness figures available relate to businesses. These
come from the SME Omnibus Survey 2001-02. This was a survey of
approximately 6,000 SMEs (0-249 employees). Business Link awareness
by English region is summarised in the table below.
|England, per cent, number
| ||Level of awareness
|Yorkshire & Humberside||8
Source: SBS Omnibus Survey, 2001-02.
Target: Unprompted awareness: 20 per cent; Prompted/total
awareness: 80 per cent.
The SBS is taking steps to raise awareness of Business Link
services. For example, a Business Link national advertising campaign
in the spring has led to a 44 per cent increase in the number
of people using the businesslink.org website in the three weeks
after the campaign compared with the two weeks before the campaign.
These figures do not distinguish between individual and business
Data on support provided by the New Deals for individuals
setting up their own businesses are collected by the Department
for Work and Pensions.
Business advisors in the Business Links have an awareness
of New Deal and the Jobcentres. On the New Deal provider side,
the SBS sits on the New Deal Providers networking group and through
membership of this group ensures that providers are kept up to
speed with developments in the Business Link Operator services.
The need for joined up government in this area is recognised.
On 6 May 2002, the Small Business Service published its consultation
document on a Comprehensive Strategy for Start-ups. The document
makes several recommendations. These include achieving greater
cohesion of start-up support by setting up a national start-ups
forum. This will bring together the principal departments in Whitehall
having an interest in the start-ups agenda including DWP. The
forum will advise on the development of policy on start-ups and
helping people to become self-employed and review SBS performance.
The document also recommends that the Regional Development
Agencies work with the local and regional business support organisations
to achieve better integration of their service delivery. The government
is anxious that good practice is widely disseminated. Hence, for
example, there could be greater use of Business Links advisors
in Jobcentres, so that people have access to the wider range of
services that they ultimately will require.
The consultation document also refers to the SBS working
with DWP in the production of a booklet promoting self-employment.
The booklet will describe the benefits of becoming self-employed,
show people what they need to do, and where in Government they
can obtain help. The booklet, as well as detailing New Deal and
the Princes Trust, will also describe the help available from
the Business Links. The booklet will be available from Jobcentres
and Business Links, and staff in both organisations will be trained
in its use. The consultation document also underlines our intentions
to target those in under represented groups and in disadvantaged
areas in all SBS services.
The consultation period runs until the end of July.
Ethnic Minority Business Forum (question 213)
The Government has fully endorsed the Business Forum's recommendations
(listed at www.sbs.gov.uk/embf/reports.asp ) and Small Business
Service officials are working closely with the Forum towards the
implementation of the recommendations. The SBS is also working
with other Government Departments to help implement the recommendations.
Evaluation of the Phoenix Fund (questions 217-219)
The pilot initiative commenced in January 2000 and was evaluated
the following year. Although it was too early to measure the BVMA
impact, the evaluation showed there was enthusiasm on all sides,
including by clients, for the continuation and expansion of the
BVMA beyond the pilot phase. Local Enterprise agencies and other
Business Link partners who delivered the initiative on the ground
were impressed with the general quality of the volunteers, mentors
remained confident that they could make a difference and clients
were hopeful that mentoring would help their business, despite
being in the early stage of the process. The National Federation
of Enterprise Agencies (who co-ordinated the initiative) were
confident that the initiative could make a significant contribution
to support services for pre and early start businesses.
In the light of the evaluation the scheme was rolled-out
into a fully-fledged initiative as part of the suite of Business
Link branded services and continues to provide free mentoring
support to pre and early start-up businesses, including those
from under represented groups and disadvantaged areas. In the
last quarter for which figures are available, 66 per cent of clients
seen were pre-start-ups and 37 per cent were unemployed.
Currently, there are no specific plans for a further dedicated
evaluation of the BVMA. Any additional assessment will be conducted
within the wider framework of an evaluation of the impact of Business
Link delivered services.
The first projects started in January 2001. The results of
a preliminary evaluation will be available in June.
The first awards started in August 2001. The results of an
initial evaluation will be available in Summer 2002.
The other parts of the Fund including City Growth Strategies
and the Development Fund for Rural Renewal have only started recently
and evaluation plans have yet to be finalised. However, internal
monitoring arrangements are in place.