Shadow minister for enterprise, deregulation and competition Mark Prisk MP has challenged the government to address questions of quality and access to business advice as part of the £2.5bn review of business support.
In a letter to Minister Steven Timms, Prisk said: "After 21 months and £3m spent on this exercise, your department is still unable to explain what the new system will be, or how it will work." He also asked what would be achieved by "rebranding" existing schemes into products and portfolios.
"Small businesses need holistic, face-to-face advice which is tailored to their needs," he said. "Yet the regional Business Links have rejected that for a more remote, generic approach."
Tom Riordan, spokesman for the Regional Development Agencies which administer Business Link, responded: "The RDAs are working hard with government to simplify business support so that Business Link becomes the primary access channel and the portfolio of products is available to all types of businesses. The more flexible the product, the more easily business support providers can focus on support to sectors which are key economic drivers in each region."