§ Mr. Benton
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government have taken to help small businesses in Bootle since 1997. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
The Business Link Operator for Merseyside, Greater Merseyside Enterprises (GME), has provided assistance to 713 enterprises in the Bootle constituency since 2001. The Small Business Service was set up as an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry in April 2000. Contracts were exchanged with a national network of 45 Business Link Operators (seven in the North West) to provide business support to small and medium-sized enterprises from April 2001. Before this date, Government support to business was provided through training and enterprise councils and the SBS does not have access to these data.383W
85 of the 713 companies received business start-up advice, other assistance provided included: workforce development, financial advice, Investors In People, specialist business advice, international trade, and marketing assistance.
29 of the companies were female-run businesses and 39 were ethnic-run businesses.
Under the Enterprise Grant scheme, 11 companies have received offers of grant with a total value of £333,380 since 1997.
Under the Research and Development scheme, 12 companies have received offers of grant with a total value of £678,044 since 1997.