§ 41. Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what facilities his Department provides to assist small firms with management and associated problems; if he will increase the management-assistance provision for such firms; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. MacGregor
[pursuant to his reply, 23 July 1982, c. 335]: The Department of Industry administers the small firms service which provides a wide-ranging business information and management advisory service for existing small businesses and those thinking of starting in business. Inquirers who want advice in aspects of business management beyond factual information can arrange to discuss their plans and problems in confidence with a small firms counsellor. Counsellors are experienced private sector businessmen under contract to the Department. A number of other services including the Manufacturing Advisory Service are also open to small firms as appropriate to help with specialised problems.
The small firms service can be contacted simply by asking the telephone operator for Freefone 2444. They can also provide advice on the other schemes of assistance that a project might be eligible for, such as the microprocessor application project.
A new technical inquiry service aimed at assisting small firms on their production problems was introduced on 10 408W June 1982. It is operated on behalf of the Department by the Production Engineering Research Association (PERA) of Melton Mowbray.
The question of increasing the provision of management assistance is constantly under review. We have just completed recruitment of counsellors for the small firms service to ensure that the increased demands on the service are met promptly and efficiently.
§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish in the Official Report the latest figures for the take-up of the various schemes for Government financial and other assistance to firms, particularly small firms; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. MacGregor
[pursuant to his reply, 23 July 1982, c. 335]: The latest available details of commitments (ie firm offers to make assistance available) under various Government schemes of financial assistance to industry are set out below. Except where indicated the figures are cumulative and represent the position at 31 May 1982.
£ million Regional assistance Regional development grants *59.5 Regional selective assistance *20.3 Assistance available throughout the United Kingdom (for schemes still open to application or where applications are still being processed) Section 8 (general criteria) 24.4
£ million Redmeat slaughterhouse scheme 15.6 Coal firing scheme 7.1 Private sector steel 1.3 Microelectronics industry support programme 25.1 Microprocessor application programme 27.75 Product and process research development scheme 150.8 Fibre-Optics and opto-electronics 1.6 Small Firms Small firms loan guarantee scheme: At 30 June 1982 4,982 guarantees totalling £166.7 million had been issued. Small engineering firms investment scheme: At 16 July 1982 721 offers totalling £15.33 million had been issued. It is expected that the full allocation of £30 million will be taken up when all applications are processed. * Financial year 1982–83 up till 31 May 1982.