The LDA have announced that Serco have been selected to run the capital’s small business support unit in a three year deal worth £60 of public funding.
Business Link for London Limited (BL4L), the not for profit company established to deliver the DTI’s Business Link service, tendered for the contract but was not successful.
BL4L in its time created the first regional Business Link Operator, bringing coherence the the capital’s business support and harnessed some £40m per annum in public support for business and enterprise development.
In 2004 the DTI undid the Business Link structures, leaving the central team as ‘strategic guidance’ and devolving accountability for the Operators to the Regional Development Agencies. The current strategy is to move away from direct delivery of business support, intervention and advice and towards a “brokerage” model, offering ‘information, diagnostics and brokerage’ – a sort of Citizen’s Advice Bureau for business, if you like.
This approach sees a reduction in the amount of public and EU money deployed (now c£20m per annum) but hopefully a leveraged effect which will benefit private sector business support providers.
It’s appropriate that a managed service specialist be selected for the contract and BL4L will deliver on the plan for 2006-7, completing its operations and handover.
BL4L has not as yet commented publicly on the LDA’s decision and this post does not represent BL4L’s or the Board’s view.