February 28, 2011

FSB calls for reform of Business Gateway contracts

by Jan Harris

The Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism (EET) Committee’s review has prompted the Federation of Small Businesses to call for an amendment to Business Gateway contracts.

Business Gateway provides practical help, advice and support for new and growing businesses in Scotland and demand for the service is growing.

In the final quarter of 2010 the number of established businesses contacting the service increased by 27.9 per cent, compared with the 2009 same period.

However, the EET Committee’s review found that the transfer of Business Gateway to local authorities has led to complaints that some companies may not be receiving the support they need.

With most Scottish businesses receiving no funding from either Scottish Enterprise or Highland and Islands Enterprise, the Federation of Small Businesses’ spokesman, Colin Borland, said: “The focus, then, really should be on Business Gateway and ensuring it provides the right support to drive the recovery.

“This means amending the gateway contracts so that emphasis is put squarely on job creation and supporting established businesses through the rocky times ahead.

“The FSB has repeatedly warned that local authority spending on economic development is under threat and we’re delighted the committee has recognised that something needs to be done.

“Surely it is now time to protect local economic development departments by making it a statutory service.”

The review also suggested that Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise needed to do more to support economic recovery, including tackling the lack of funding for businesses.

Although there is political pressure to merge the two organisations the review found that because of the economic situation in the Highlands there was a need for the region to retain its own development agency.

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