Government Support for Business - Business, Innovation and Skills Contents


Helping British businesses to thrive and grow is vital to the UK's long-term economic prosperity. The Government's ambition is for the UK to be one of the best places in Europe to start, finance and grow a business. In order to facilitate this, the Government offers support to business in accessing finance, promoting exports, developing manufacturing and encouraging growth at a local level. Our inquiry considered the wide range of support that is on offer, and in particular those support programmes run by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Access to finance is fundamental to the success of business of all sizes. However, we heard varying evidence about the availability of finance, in particular for SMEs. Too many business still report that they find it difficult to get the financial support they need. By drawing on the British Business Bank's expertise, the Government should be able to develop a better understanding of the blockages in the system, why they occur, and whether changes in regulation or funding are needed to address them. The British Business bank also has a clear role to play in enhancing SME access to finance though clearly signposting the services available from alternative finance providers. In particular, it should develop a menu of alternative finance providers for each different area of financial support.

The Green Investment Bank is another area where the Government can build on a good base. As a means of providing investment to companies developing green infrastructure it has had a positive start. However, the bank could be inhibited by the absence of borrowing powers. We believe that for the bank to realise its potential, this must be addressed.

There is much that is positive to be said about the support on offer to businesses from Government. However, if that support is too complicated for businesses to understand or too poorly communicated for businesses to be aware of, then it will not be used by many businesses. The Government has stated its desire to create a simple and effective business support offer. Despite this, we have found that businesses seeking support still face a complex and unclear offer of support from the Government. The Business Growth Service was launched during this inquiry and, has the potential to bring together the different elements of Government support for business. But the Government must ensure that it compliments rather than competes with the existing suite of support products.

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Prepared 24 February 2015