§ Mr. Wiggin
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research her Department has commissioned on reducing the administrative burden for small businesses. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
In August 2004, the Department commissioned Kingston University to undertake the first stage of a research project designed to identify the effects of regulation on small businesses at different stages of growth.
§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent action her Department has undertaken to support small businesses in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
Businesses can also access various DTI funding streams via Business Link Tyne and Wear.
Tyne and Wear Small Business Fund, through the Regional Development Agency's Single Programme Funding, (managed by Tyne and Wear Development Company and delivered by each local authority) is a 50 per cent. Capital Equipment Grant of between £500 and £2,500 available to pre-start and new businesses—up to 12 months old.
The core funding provided to Business Link Tyne and Wear, has provided a foundation on which the Business Link has sourced additional funding projected at £14.5 million for the benefit of businesses in Tyne and Wear, for the year 2004–05. In 2003–04 around £7.5 million was made available to SME's based in Tyne and Wear as part of projects managed by Business Link Tyne and Wear. One of these projects offers a subsidy of up to 50 per cent. for management development training and upskilling the workforce to SME's across Tyne and Wear.
The Employer Training Pilot, was piloted in Tyne and Wear during financial year 2003–04, and has been made available to businesses throughout the north east from 1858W April 2004. This helps businesses to improve the skills of their workforce by providing training tailored to their needs.
§ Ross Cranston
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received following the cross-cutting review of Government services for small businesses about(a) lack of consumer focus and (b) inefficiency charged to recipients of Government grants through expensive collateral costs, including consultants' and accountants' fees; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
I have received many representations from businesses and business representative organisations about improving the customer focus of Government service in particular by simplifying and improving the accessibility of the support available.
The Department has responded to this customer feedback in a number of ways. For example, following DTI's recent work on its business support portfolio, the range of support available has been rationalised to nine easy to use and easy to access products. Information on the website and in brochures is written in plain English, explaining what the products are and how to access them. Application processes have also been reviewed to make them easier for the customer to comply with. The changes mean that it is no longer necessary for businesses to make use of external professional advice or intervention to apply for and use the business support products.
Responding to concerns expressed by small businesses that they find it difficult to establish their regulatory responsibilities, my Department has published a "No-Nonsense Guide to Government rules and regulations for setting up your business". This brings together in one place, information about all the regulatory requirements applying to start-up and developing businesses.
Working with other Departments, the DTI has also improved the customer focus of its e-services through the launch of the businesslink.gov web portal in April. The site joins up national e-government services for the UK's four million small and medium-sized businesses, providing a single access point to information from all Departments that are important to small businesses, such as the Inland Revenue and the Health and Safety Executive. The site is currently securing about 100,000 visitors each week, and has recently won the International Visual Communication Association's Gold Award for the best website of 2004.