News

December 10, 2010 - Anonymous

Start-ups and micro firms may miss out on support from LEPs, warns NFEA

Start-ups and micro businesses may not get the support they need under the Government’s new business support network, the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies (NFEA) has warned.

The NFEA has highlighted its concerns in a new report which states that start-ups and micro firms may miss out when the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Business Links are replaced with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). It says that the plans for LEPs have so far focused more on their other functions, such as infrastructure, rather than their enterprise role.

"We’re concerned that firms with less than ten employees and start-ups in particular won’t get enough support, as they are the businesses that currently benefit from the local Business Link advice services," said NFEA chief executive, George Derbyshire.

"While there will still be the online component of Business Link and there is talk of there being a national call centre, we are worried that there will not be any local face-to-face support service available, which could lead to less businesses starting up and growing."

However, a spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said that the Government would provide start-ups with support by providing enterprise training at further education colleges, supporting new businesses in disadvantaged areas and encouraging business networks and mentors.

"The recent Local Growth White Paper sets out the role we expect LEPs to play in supporting enterprise and businesses in their areas," she said. "Because the partnerships bring together public and private partners, are led by a business figure and are based at a local level, they will be well placed to work with businesses to address any needs or concerns they have and help them to survive and grow."

The first 24 LEPs have been given the go-ahead, although the RDAs will not be abolished until March 2012.