HC Deb 30 March 2004 vol 419 cc1364-5W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government have taken to help small businesses in Crosby since 1997. [160582]

Nigel Griffiths

In his Budget statement the Chancellor announced a number of steps to help small businesses including an increase of capital allowances to 50 per cent. and raising VAT registration threshold to 58 per cent., all of which helps Small Businesses in Crosby. In addition since 2001 the Business Link Operator for Greater Merseyside has contributed £13,700 consultancy subsidy to help 126 businesses, which includes three organisations who have shown an interest in improving their business through developing their people. Two of these are now preparing towards obtaining the Investors in People standard.

A number of organisations have taken advantage of Business Link for Merseyside's subsidised consulting programme under Objective One, one of which wished to establish a scenic/prop workshop for the film and media industry, the subsidy helped the organisation draw up a business plan and raise the finance to develop their business idea. A day Nursery who have expanded into new premises were helped by using this subsidy to help promote their new premises by a production of a new brochure. Two financial service companies have benefited, one by using the subsidy to develop their website to promote financial services, the other to obtain a network solution to provide more efficient and effective ICT services within the business. Another Merseyside company is looking to expand their business and will use the subsidy to develop a marketing plan.

One organisation has used the Business Link's Supply Chain Programme and has just signed up for a second year, part of the programme puts interested businesses on a database and matches them up with purchasers further up the supply chain, this gives the business greater opportunity to grow.

The Business Link has assisted a number of businesses to start-up, this includes helping to draw up a plan to restart a business following pregnancy of the owner, helping identify and obtain funding to allow an employee of a small business to buy out from the retiring employer, assisting a new business to access growth finance, providing an action plan to a business wishing to recycle computers to charities.

A company, started with a loan from Princes Trust approached the Euro Info Centre North West (hosted by Greater Merseyside Enterprise) for information on further European funding to develop the business into Europe. This has given the business access to further funding which should help it grow into Europe. Another Business has taken advantage several times of the UKTI trade mission service to develop its overseas market opportunities.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people were employed in small businesses in each of the last seven years. [163313]

Nigel Griffiths

The figure for 2003 is not yet available.

The estimated numbers of people employed in small businesses (businesses with 0 to 49 employees) in the United Kingdom private sector (including public corporations and nationalised bodies) from 1997 to 2002 are as follows:

People (Thousand)
1997 9,418
1998 9,652
1999 9,557
2000 9,650
2001 9,809
2002 9,911

These figures are available at www.sbs.gov.uk/statistics/smestats.php.

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