“We still have considerable duplication of effort at local level. From a business point of view, it’s a muddle, from a funding point of view, it’s a waste. The way forward is a single unified business organisation at a local level. It presumes that the existing Chamber network, TECs and Business Links will disappear.”
Ian Peters. British Chambers of Commerce Director-General (1997)
In the United Kingdom there are 3 mainstream groups representing businesses – the British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Confederation of British Industry. These organisations influence Government on all aspects of business support policy. Chapter 5 examines the mandate of these organisations and their right to speak for business.
In 2003, Patricia Hewitt, the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, asserted that Business Link was “in a pretty pathetic state when we took over”. Chapter 5 discusses the 1997 Enhanced Business Link policy that introduced five key tests for Business Link Operators.
- Board Fitness – evidence the people steering Business Links are up to scratch
- Pay your way – expectation 25 percent of revenue will be privately generated
- Performance management – demand for regular data to evidence activity
- Perform or die – “rigorously enforced” audit of numbers against contract
- People quality – continuous evidence that advisers and staff are fit for purpose
The impact on the effectiveness of small and medium sized business support is investigated.