The Department of Business Innovation & Skills white paper on local growth identified the £154m annual cost of running the Business Link network was "high" and that the generalist nature of support, advice and consultancy provided to small firms had been poorly targeted, for example at "so-called 'lifestyle businesses' that were unlikely to grow.
The Business Link initiative is carried out under the auspices of nine Regional Development Agencies, which will scrapped and replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships, which enterprise minister Mark Prisk confirmed in June would face the chop. In line with the new government's strategy to shift power to local communities and businesses, the LEPs will be joint projects between local authorities and business groups. So far, 24 LEPs have been approved and the intitiative will be backed with a £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund.
From April 2012, the www.businesslink.gov.uk website and a national call centre will be the primary sources of advice and support for small businesses.
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