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Alun Michael: There were 453,000 business start-ups in England and Wales in 2004 according to Barclays bank's latest survey of business creation includes non-VAT registered firms. This is the highest number since the survey started in 1988.
VAT registrations do not capture all start-up activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if they fall below the compulsory VAT threshold, which has risen in each year since 1997. Only 1.8 million out of 4 million enterprises were registered for VAT at the start of 2003.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. is involved in the proposed building of a uranium enrichment facility in New Mexico; whether his Department has been consulted on the project; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: British Nuclear Fuels has a 100 per cent. interest in Westinghouse, the business focus of which is front end nuclear fuel services. Westinghouse has a minority interest of 24.5 per cent. in Louisiana Enrichment Services II partnership (LES). LES is currently going through a licensing application process for the potential construction of a new uranium enrichment facility in New Mexico, based on Urenco's technology. Clearly no construction has yet commenced. Urenco own the remaining controlling interest (75.5 per cent.) in LES. Urenco is one third owned by British Nuclear Fuels with the remaining two thirds being owned by Dutch and German organisations.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much funding from the Phoenix Fund has been invested in (a) sole traders, (b) small business and (c) social enterprises through community development finance initiatives in each year since its inception; and if he will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: As at 31 March 2005 community development finance institutions supported by the DTI's Phoenix Fund have made 2,560 loans with a value of £16,826,070. These figures can be broken down as follows:
|Number of loans||Value of loans (£)|
As at 31 March 2005 1,572 loans worth £6,873,718.27 have been made to sole traders and 988 loans worth £9,952,351.73 have been made to SMEs and social enterprises. Lending to social enterprises is aggregated within the SME figures and is not available separately. However, a number of CDFIs supported by the Phoenix Fund specifically identify social enterprises as part of their customer base. The in-year breakdown is as follows:
|Sole traders||SMEs (inc. social|
|Number of loans||Value of loans (£)||Number of loans||Value of loans (£)|
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research the Department commissioned on the levels of interest rates charges by community development finance institutions supported by the Phoenix Fund; and if he will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: The Department commissioned GHK Consultants to undertake a wide-ranging evaluation of the first two rounds of Phoenix Fund support for Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs). GHK published its findings and recommendations in May 2004.
The evaluation looked at many issues facing CDFIs in the provision of debt finance to enterprises in disadvantaged communities. This included the assessment of risk in relation to loan management. (The GHK report can be down-loaded from the "Research and Statistics" (Improving Access to Finance) section of the SBS website at: http://www.sbs.gov.uk).
Through the Department's core funding of the Community Development Finance Association (CDFA), the trade association for CDFIs, more recent and specific research has been conducted into CDFI interest rates. A summary of this can be found in this year's "Inside Out", the CDFA's report on the industry for 2004. (Copies available through the CDFA website at: http://www.cdfa.org.uk).
The CDFA's research concluded that CDFI interest rates vary, generally depending on the market being served, client type, loan size and term. Social enterprise lenders continue to operate with the lowest average rates at 9.22 per cent. static and +3.07 per cent. above base rate. A number of CDFIs targeting for-profit micro-enterprises use static rates with an average of 12.95 per cent., with others using variable rates with points above base rate at an average of +4.23 per cent.
25 May 2005 : Column 117W
CDFIs serve a diverse range of customers unable to access all the finance they need from more conventional sources and their rates reflect the risks and cost bases of the particular circumstances in which they operate.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what public funds have been made
25 May 2005 : Column 118W
available for economic development in the Yorkshire and the Humber region in each of the last three years from (a) national sources and (b) EU funds. 
|Objective 1 European Regional Development Fund||28,610,888||66,140,394||77,692,767|
|Objective 1 European Social Fund||27,372,602||29,370,428||32,980,128|
|Objective 1 European Agricultural Guidance Guarantee Fund||1,221,622||2,896,258||2,020,678|
|Objective 2 European Regional Development Fund||20,884,353||49,670,196||53,432,914|
|Objective 2 European Social Fund||1,647,367||9,131,799||5,773,713|
|Objective 3 European Social Fund||21,387,994||22,560,024||27,682,844|
|URBAN European Regional Development Fund||1,533||816,419||1,660,039|
Yorkshire Forward has made available a total of £136.30 million towards economic development in Yorkshire and Humber over the last three years (excluding European funding) Yorkshire Forward works on financial years.
Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she will reply to the letters from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to (a) Tarquin Crirst dated 8 March and (b) Ms Gill Wright dated 30 March. 
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