The 2006 Budget included a commitment to reduce the number of publicly funded business support schemes from over 3,000 to less than 100 by 2010.  Government consulted on Business Support Simplification Programme proposals during 2007, published their vision of the new framework in March 2008 and produced, ‘Solutions for Business – funded by government’, setting out what the final package will look like on 23rd October 2008.  The full document and product rationales can be found at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file48471.pdf and http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file48470.pdf 

Summary of key proposals

‘Solutions for Business – funded by government’ will be the overall brand for the cross-government package of publicly funded business support products (advice, loans and grants) with all products to carry this branding.

The new national business support package will consist of 30 products[1]. The integration process is being rolled out from October 2008, with all products to be in place by March 2009 and all changes completed by 2010 (other products having been closed, given notice to close, or migrated to the new package).

Business Link will be the first point of contact for accessing business support, co-ordinating the package of public provision (provided by government departments and agencies, RDAs and Local Authorities) and private and third sector schemes.

The programme will be overseen by a Business Link Strategy Group (of businesses, business organisation representatives, RDAs and Business Link), with ongoing monitoring and evaluation of products.

Government estimates changes will create £1.4bn annual economic benefits and £1.4m in annual saved search costs, but want further efficiency savings, including simplifying application processes and better targeting of schemes.