Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Business Support: Your Views

The business support terrain is set to change drastically from that which has lasted for the past decade, and over the week we have been asking you for your thoughts about the future of funding in the North East.

Under the new Business Link banner, SMEs and start-ups will be able to access the information and support from a detailed website and helpline, but for many of you the closure of the dedicated centres is an issue of great concern.

One reader believes that the new system will not be able to handle claims on an individual basis.

He said: “Computer systems to handle claims are fine for decisions on simple advice and low level funding, but for real growth a company needs proper mentoring and significant levels of staged investment, which means face-to-face meetings, pitches and detailed business plans”

Another reader went so far as to comment “Its going like the banks, impersonal and system based”, and described the changes as a blow to start ups.

Some have also anticipated a fall in the number of new businesses – which would contradict the governments plan to encourage growth through the private sector.

“Watch the drop in start ups, watch the drop in any funding of any value, watch the backlash when it fails to reboot the public sector economy, and watch unemployment rise,” he wrote.

One contributor even went as far as to say it will be a “disaster for the economy”.

While many of these fears may not be completely unfounded, it is also important to remember that there are other support mechanisms available – and indeed, there was a time when there was little or no business support available at all.

Equally, the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships will also become integral to providing support and constructive challenge to those tasked with delivering new programmes to ensure we do not miss out.

We asked Fiona Cruickshank, founder of SCM Pharma, and a member of the board of the North East Enterprise Partnership. Fiona is a small business owner herself, while she can appreciate the issues businesses face, she is also focusing positively on the future.

“A lot of people are focusing on Business Link as it was, and while there is a tendency to look back at what we’ve lost, we now need to look at the LEP structure and see how that can deliver.

“There are other options, and perhaps this change will encourage people to become even more entrepreneurial than they were before.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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