HC Deb 22 April 1986 vol 96 cc106-7W
35. Mr. Rowe

asked the Paymaster General what steps he will take to improve the marketing skills of the small business sector.

Mr. Trippier

At present, advice on marketing is available to the small business sector as part of the general business advice offered by the Department's small firms service. In addition the Department of Trade and Industry provides help with marketing and market research to small businesses in areas affected by closure in the steel, shipbuilding, textile and fisheries industries through its business improvement services package, whilst the British Overseas Trade Board provides a range of assistance which can help the small exporter with marketing overseas.

The Department of Trade and Industry announced on 11 April a "Support for Marketing" scheme which will start in the autumn. Under the scheme, the cost of the first two days' consultancy will be met, as well as 75 per cent. of the cost of up to 13 days' further consultancy. I welcome this initiative, as I believe it is important to improve the marketing skills of the small business sector.

37. Mr. Beaumont-Dark

asked the Paymaster General if he will take steps to ensure that very small businesses obtain access to funding through the business expansion scheme.

Mr. Trippier

The business expansion scheme is an important initiative to promote the flow of equity finance to unquoted companies. Inland Revenue statistics show that more than half the companies raising money under the terms of the scheme in 1983–84 obtained investments of £50,000 or less and about half of the companies employed fewer than 10 people. Some local enterprise agencies have established local funds and other measures to bring together potential investors and small companies and I hope that others will also do this. In September 1985, my Department also published a new leaflet designed to increase awareness of the benefits the business expansion scheme can offer to both potential investors and small companies.

40. Mr. Lord

asked the Paymaster General what recent representations he has received on the situation confronting small businesses faced with large customers delaying the payment of invoices for up to five months.

Mr. Trippier

We continue to receive representations on this issue from small firms and small firms organisations. These representations confirm the adverse effects of delays in payment on the financial position of small businesses particularly.

We shall publish guidance shortly on good practice in the payment of bills.

44. Mr. Sackville

asked the Paymaster General, what plans he has to provide help for small firms with presentation of business plans for consideration by banks.

Mr. Trippier

Advice on the preparation of detailed business plans is available from a number of sources. Professional advisers can help the small business man with the presentation of a case to financial institutions, and bank managers can advise on the information they require when considering applications for loan finance for small firms. Local enterprise agencies and small firms centres can also assist the preparation of business plans and explain the importance of planning, budgeting and control as aspects of the management of successful small firms. These services will continue to be available.