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Redbridge business leaders slam government’s support for small firms

PUBLISHED: 15:00 23 November 2013

Business figures in Redbridge have slammed the government’s new measures to support small companies, saying they don’t go far enough.

Geoff Hill, chairman of the Redbridge Chamber of Commerce, criticised website Great Business, part of Business Secretary Vince Cable’s campaign to champion small firms.

The website, which provides links to services and guidance, was unveiled earlier this month along with other measures.

Mentoring

Mr Hill said: “These initiatives are fine, but they are not enough and the website is appalling. Allowing them [small companies] to tender business is good if it works properly and is easy to use, but this is not.”

Other measures endorsed by Mr Cable are a £1million mentoring fund, to team up firms with 
experienced businessmen in their field, and the continuation of the growth accelerator scheme, which coaches companies on matters such as gaining new investments.

Mr Hill said: “£1 million is not a lot of money. While they are putting these tiny bits of money in, businesses are still being bled dry by taxes. Especially in Redbridge, because it is made up of lots of small businesses.”

Iain Wicks, the Essex development manager of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the government was not “making any new announcements”.

He believes the mentoring scheme is weaker than predecessor Business Link, which saw companies gain advice from dedicated advisers.

“It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was far better than the one it has been replaced with,” said Mr Wicks.

“I don’t think they have really been as successful as they could have been [with business policies].”

Aid

Both men believe Redbridge companies would fare better with increased aid.

Mr Wicks added: “I think the small businesses would say they need extra support to get them training and skills.

“There’s a lot out there but it’s all very disjointed and confusing. They want a single point of access for business support.”

Mr Hill added: “Small businesses here need more help to develop. If you talk to them, they say they have big problems with business rates and rents.

“But that is outside the government’s control.”

After revealing his plans, 
Mr Cable said: “We have set out a comprehensive package of measures that will address the concerns of small firms.”


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