Tuesday, December 1, 2015

News: Business Growth Service closes

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The Government has closed the national Business Growth Service, bringing to an end business support through schemes such as the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and the GrowthAccelerator.


GrowthAccelerator, a £200m partnership between the private sector and Government saw proven business experts working with enterprises to identify their barriers to growth and ways to overcome them. In the Sheffield city region, specialist provider, Winning Pitch launched the initiative in 2012.

A nationally operated Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) focused on helping small and medium sized manufacturers to grow. Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), it worked for manufacturers and through experienced advisors to help shape strategy, create new products, reduce waste and review supply chains.

The services were brought together with other national programmes under the Business Growth Service in 2014.

With BIS having its budgets cut by 17% in the recent spending review, a statement on the Business Growth Service website, read: "As part of the Spending Review settlement the government has decided to wind down the national delivery of the Business Growth Service.

"On 26th November 2015 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) issued a formal instruction to providers of the Business Growth Service: Not to enter into any further contractual commitments with customers after 23:59 Monday 30 November; That all contractual commitments should be honoured, as long as all support and related activity is completed by 31 March 2016.

"If you're looking to find what business support is available in your area, your local Growth Hub may be able to help."

Announced in more detail as part of the Sheffield city region's 2014 devolution deal, "the most ambitious, business-led Growth Hub in the country" is seen as central to the business-facing elements of the Local Enteprise Partnership's (LEP's) Strategic Economic Plan, which set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield City Region by 2023.

Designed by business leaders for business leaders, the Growth Hub aims to remove internal boundaries within the city region, so that every growing business gets the support it needs to thrive.

National services, such as the Business Growth Service, were set to be aligned with local business support through the growth hub, so that businesses get a joined up service which meets their needs. With one website and one phone number, this will include co-location, referrals, marketing, diagnostics, evaluation, customer acquisition and the simplification of local and national business support.

£4.5m of existing Local Growth Fund allocation is being used to set up the hub which is then expected to be backed by £83.5m of European funding. With David Grimes in post as manager, recruitment delays mean that the Growth Hub is not yet fully launched.

A wider range of business growth themed activity not currently included within the delivery plan for the Growth Hub is expected to be assessed by the city region combined authority. For example, a New Business Partnership led consortium bid for European funding to run a Start-Up project has been matched with the offer of £350,000 of city region funding.

The Growth Hub is set to be complimentary to local authority and other provision. In Rotherham, the "Business Lift-off" project, run by Rotherham Council's Investment and Development Office (RiDO), sets out a range of workshops and masterclasses on a number of business topics all designed to help plan, develop and grow business ideas from the borough's entrepreneurs.

The workshops, run by RiDO's experienced business advisors, are held every four weeks in Rotherham town centre with a follow-up specialist masterclass offered in book-keeping, accounting and tax, business planning and marketing. As businesses grow, RiDO can also offer general advice and support around issues such as exporting, finding new premises, funding and recruitment.

The Business Lift-off team will be setting up shop on the award-winning Rotherham High Street for Small Business Saturday (December 5).

Martyn Benson, start-up advisor at RiDO said: "We have a number of support packages and free training available to existing and aspiring businesses and we hope to promote these on Small Business Saturday UK.

"At this time of the year some people will think about making a career change and setting-up a business is an option to consider. We provide support through the whole process and can also point people in the right direction for other types of assistance."

RiDO website

Images: BIS

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