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National Audit Office - Small Business Service criticised

National Audit Office - Small Business Service criticised

Category: Business

Updated: 31/10/2008
First Published: 28/06/2006

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The Department of Trade and Industry's Small Business Service (SBS) has come in for some heavy criticism this month. Being labelled as overly complex and lacking influence, the service has been accused of having effectiveness that is difficult to measure.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO), the independent public spending watchdog described the Government's annual £2.6billion small business support strategy as flawed from the outset. Outlining the problems, Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said: "Government needs a better appreciation of its impact on small businesses and simpler performance management arrangements if it is to achieve its aim - to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business."

Joining the debate, Victoria Carson, campaigns manager with the Forum of Private Business, added: "The SBS has neither the influence, nor the structure to serve small firms best. Our members need real representation at the highest levels, not what is, essentially, a cumbersome compromise."

One piece of good news came in the form of the credit given to the SBS' advisory service, the NAO praised Business Link, for both its volume and quality of services.

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