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View Poll Results: Will you miss Business Link when it's gone (in its current format)?
Yes, Business Link is a great organisation and has been a big help to me 16 55.17%
No, I won't really miss Business Link if they go 9 31.03%
Dunno, I'm not bothered either way 4 13.79%
Voters: 29. You may not vote on this poll

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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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Tories announce plans to scrap Business Link

Just read this and wondered what you guys and gals thought?

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Tories announce plans to scrap Business Link

Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk has prioritised the scrapping of Business Link if the Conservatives come into power. Mr Prisk told the Sunday Times that he believes regional Business Links are "failing in their task" and would like to see local enterprise agencies (like the ones listed on www.nfea.com) take a greater role in helping small firms.

For more on this story go to:
http://www.shell-livewire.org/news/tories-businesslink/

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Spodaz Spodaz is offline
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It is not just Business Link the Tories want to remove, they also want rid of the Regional Development Agencies (RDA) except in London of course where a Conservative Mayor happens to be in power!

Although I agree that some RDA's have wasted a large amount of public funds on projects that have brought no benefit to an area, One North East in the North East has had an excellent impact on regenration across the region and run numerous successful projects.

If they were to remove RDA's it is not just the people who work at them that lose their jobs, but people at all the projects they fund.
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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If they were to remove RDA's it is not just the people who work at them that lose their jobs, but people at all the projects they fund.
Alan, apparently if the Tories get rid of the RDA's their plan is to give all the money to the local authorities to decide which projects to fund and how they are managed instead of what some deem to be 'an unelected quango'.

Their argument is that the RDA's are sucking up huge amounts of money in overheads, v.high staff wages, etc that would be better going straight to the people on the ground. So in effect, they would simply be stripping away an extra layer of bureaucracy.

The downside is that the RDA's employ a lot of people so there will be huge job losses if they scrap them. Maybe the staff can go on an start their own businesses?
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Richard.curran's Avatar Richard.curran Richard.curran is offline
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For me the Business Link is typical of Government initiatives - there is a surprising amount of content on the website which is undermined by a poor understanding of why people use websites.

Its not Web 2.0 in any way. People talk about Web 2.0 in some quarters as being a marketing idea and not a reality - its websites like this that make you realise that it is indeed a real thing. There is very little easy utility and it is a very much "the info is in here somewhere but you gotta find it on your own" website.

I am in Scotland so maybe I do not get exposed to the marketing but I suspect that they do not market the website at all. The Tories wanting to scrap it is two things, firstly a recognition of how the website does not live up to its promise and secondly an admission by them they can't figure out how to use the internet. The opportunity with the Business Link website to encourage growth and good practice amongst businesses and foster entrepreneurial talent across the UK is something that the Government just has completely failed to capitalise on and this latest news that the Tories would scrap it compounds, for me, what I see as being the big problem in English Government: The Lesser of Two Evils

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the parties are evil. There is nothing inspiring about either of the two main political forces. In Scotland, where I am privileged to live I have the choice of voting SNP. As it happens we all have the choice of voting for the Scottish National Party and I would recommend them to people living in England that want to get shot of Scotland - according to all the main parties in England we Scots are getting more money from Westminster in our budget than is raised here. Of course, I think those parties that subscribe to that view are lying, plain and simply, yet if you believe them, get shot of us and vote SNP in the next election.

The SNP would not get rid of Business Link as they are a party that thoroughly believes in the power of entrepreneurialism in Scotland.

The business link website is failing in its task?

What is its task? It has no focus, it is unable to fail in its task since as far as I can see its remit is simply to exist. How can it fail at such a task?

As for the RDA being scrapped this is a local government issue. The RDA scheme here in Edinburgh was all spent on developing a project in the worst area of the city, it was a really big deal and brought in new jobs and all that sort of thing. New jobs. Which people commuted to. It build a new train station for people to commute to their new jobs. It build office buildings for people to have their new jobs in. It was very successful at lining the pockets of a select few and did very little, relatively, to help the wider community.

I am not sure if giving the money to Local Government ahead of "Unelected Quangos" will help. That is a little tautological anyway, since when did people vote for quasi autonomous non governmental organisations? Anyway, I wouldn't trust the people in Local Government to decide where the money should go as their main skill set involves working in local government which over the last 10 000 years has not been that successful at deciding where money goes, whilst the private sector has been.

To be honest with you I am not a big fan of English politics or "UK" politics, which is in my mind English politics. If the SNP decided to scrap it then I'd be happy as they have a strong focus on developing enterprise. I am not sure what the Conservative Party's view on it all is so its just another head ache.

Having said alllllllllllllllllllllll of that long rant I would say that the point I made at the top about the Business Link website being rubbish still stands. It is rubbish. They link it in with the Job Centre in a rubbish way. No one knows what it is for. It has all the information you will never need on there and nothing that is particularly jump-out interesting. If they want to scrap it though it is not because they think the Labour party did a poor job making it but an admission that they would do an even poorer one fixing it.
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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More with less

The Business Link website is actually much, much better than it used to be as they have put a lot of resources into ensuring that the content is updated in recent years. No, it's not web 2.0, but it's still a pretty good resource with plenty of info on there for people that want to read and learn in their own time.

Here's something interesting that I circled in 'Access all areas? How to meet the needs of SME's' agenda paper from The Chartered Institute of Marketing in October 2009.

Quote:
More with less

In England, Business Link is now undergoing a significant transformation intended to make it the government's main online information and transaction channel for business. By 2010, content and services will have been moved from more than 50 per cent of the relevant previous government sites, and 1,000 new guides delivered. By 2011, content and services from 95 per cent of government websites will be available either through businesslink.gov.uk for businesses, or direct.gov.uk for citizens. A paper for The Chartered Institute of Marketing from Business Link points out that the site's structure is "not based on government silos, but on subjects that are meaningful to businesses". As an example of how businesslink.gov.uk is evolving, the paper argues that simply bringing material together in one place is proving effective. Recent material for employers on maternity, paternity and adoption combined with several locations on the Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Acas websites, now together on businesslink.gov.uk gained more than a fourfold increase in visits from the first three months of the content being there.
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aa412's Avatar aa412 aa412 is offline
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I completely disagree about the business link website. Not everything can be in bite size chunks and when it comes to running a business there is a lot of information that people need to know. I find the business link website very useful for providing in depth information about all topics. Granted you usually have to dedicate a good amount of time to reading about a particular topic and it can sometimes seem like you are going round in a huge circle (I was looking at import/export the other day and it can take forever to read). But if you are serious about your business you will make the time.

As far as business link as an organisation everyone on here by now knows that I am a massive supporter of them. If it wasn't for them I would have most likely not started my business. Yes there is always the princes trust, but as I have a degree the help they can give me is limited. Obviously Shell Livewire is good for asking immediate questions, but nothing can compare to the amazing Business Link seminars that are all free and really give you a sense of direction on any topic from SEO to getting the most out of all your marketing materials. If it goes it will be a sad day for business owners everywhere.
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Richard.curran's Avatar Richard.curran Richard.curran is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa412 View Post
I completely disagree about the business link website. Not everything can be in bite size chunks and when it comes to running a business there is a lot of information that people need to know. I find the business link website very useful for providing in depth information about all topics. Granted you usually have to dedicate a good amount of time to reading about a particular topic and it can sometimes seem like you are going round in a huge circle (I was looking at import/export the other day and it can take forever to read). But if you are serious about your business you will make the time.

As far as business link as an organisation everyone on here by now knows that I am a massive supporter of them. If it wasn't for them I would have most likely not started my business. Yes there is always the princes trust, but as I have a degree the help they can give me is limited. Obviously Shell Livewire is good for asking immediate questions, but nothing can compare to the amazing Business Link seminars that are all free and really give you a sense of direction on any topic from SEO to getting the most out of all your marketing materials. If it goes it will be a sad day for business owners everywhere.
That's a fairly inspirational post, I also have a business degree and I have found the Prince's Trust to be incredibly useful so if you rate the Business Link website higher than P.Trust then I'll go and investigate what you've said about these seminars. The help the Prince's Trust can give should not be dismissed - they linked me up with a very good business mentor and helped with networking, free sessions with lawyers/accountants and they also help with funding, but they've reduced that now from what was £1000 a year ago to £500.

The business link website, appears, to serve only as a resource for people who are prepared to go digging for the information. It is not the sort of thing that makes use of the technology available to us in the 21st century. As it happens it reminds me of a big ring binder that my careers office has.

On the homepage the b-link introduces itself like this "Business Link is a free business advice and support service".

Where is the support service and the advice? Its a much more like a ring binder full of info. If you went to the job centre for "advice" on getting a job and they said nothing to you but pointed at those machines where jobs are advertised you couldn't call that "advice", seems like the same deal on the Business Link website. Not so much advice but information, plain and simple.

Anyway, I am being a little critical of the site whilst I don't mean to be. It is a great website in terms of the content. Its just lacking any decent marketing or a focus or purpose which takes some of the pressure off the individual who goes to the site without a specific purpose in mind. For instance, you want to know about how Rates are worked out on commercial properties, its great. On the other hand if you feel, like many people who use these forums, that you would like to start a business but don't know how - the website just looks like a mountain of hard work.
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Originally Posted by Richard.curran View Post
That's a fairly inspirational post, I also have a business degree and I have found the Prince's Trust to be incredibly useful so if you rate the Business Link website higher than P.Trust then I'll go and investigate what you've said about these seminars. The help the Prince's Trust can give should not be dismissed - they linked me up with a very good business mentor and helped with networking, free sessions with lawyers/accountants and they also help with funding, but they've reduced that now from what was £1000 a year ago to £500.

The business link website, appears, to serve only as a resource for people who are prepared to go digging for the information. It is not the sort of thing that makes use of the technology available to us in the 21st century. As it happens it reminds me of a big ring binder that my careers office has.

On the homepage the b-link introduces itself like this "Business Link is a free business advice and support service".

Where is the support service and the advice? Its a much more like a ring binder full of info. If you went to the job centre for "advice" on getting a job and they said nothing to you but pointed at those machines where jobs are advertised you couldn't call that "advice", seems like the same deal on the Business Link website. Not so much advice but information, plain and simple.

Anyway, I am being a little critical of the site whilst I don't mean to be. It is a great website in terms of the content. Its just lacking any decent marketing or a focus or purpose which takes some of the pressure off the individual who goes to the site without a specific purpose in mind. For instance, you want to know about how Rates are worked out on commercial properties, its great. On the other hand if you feel, like many people who use these forums, that you would like to start a business but don't know how - the website just looks like a mountain of hard work.
You have a degree but the Princes Trust helped you? What region/area do you live in? I called them, filled in the online application and they said they couldn't help me and referred me to one or two useless places. hmmm
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aa412's Avatar aa412 aa412 is offline
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Maybe it depends on where you live, but if you go on the princes trust website their 4 groups of who they help are, young people who are unemployed, who are in care, ex offenders and those underacheiving in education. Someone on this forum recently also stated that they couldn't get help due to the fact they had a degree. I completed an online form with them and got a letter saying that someone had tried to get in contact with me, but after being told by various people that pt couldn't help someone in my situation then I didn't get back to them. But if you're saying that they do help people outside of those groups then I'll def give them a go.

With regards to business link, their main advice doesn't actually come from the site. It comes from face to face meetings with advisors and an excellent telephone service where you can ask questions on anything and they email you the relevant information and point you to a relevant section on the site. I can understand that if you just go on the site for the first time it doesn't necessearily flow well though.
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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Who The Prince's Trust can help

The Prince's Trust are very good at what they do, but are also very clear on who they are there to help - i.e. young people who are 'disadvantaged' in some way.

Direct from their website:

Quote:
The Prince's Trust - What we do & Who we help

Around one in five young people in the UK are not in work, education or training. Youth unemployment costs the UK economy £10 million a day in lost productivity, while youth crime costs £1 billion every year. We address this by giving practical and financial support to the young people who need it most. We help develop key skills, confidence and motivation, enabling young people to move into work, education or training.

We have four key target groups:

Unemployed young people
A wealth of research indicates that lower educational attainment and lack of formal qualifications make it much more difficult to secure full-time employment.

To help those with few or no qualifications to build skills, confidence and find employment, we provide personal development opportunities.

To assist young people trying to move into a job, training or education - but lacking the money to do so - we give Development Awards

Young people underachieving in education
5.4% of 15 year olds in England leave school with no qualifications and nearly 25% have fewer than five GCSEs.

To combat school-related challenges such as truancy, exclusions and poor performance, we run xl clubs within 300 schools across the UK.

Young people leaving care
Approximately 8,000 young people leave care more vulnerable than most. They are more likely to have no qualifications or low basic skills, or be unemployed or homeless.

Young offenders and ex-offenders
According to a Home Office survey, 3.95% of the 16-25 population have offended.
The Prince's Trust does not run programmes exclusively for young offenders and ex-offenders, but we recognise the strength of our programmes to help them break the offending cycle and fulfil their aspirations.
Therefore, if this doesn't sound like you then you will probably be wasting your time contacting The Prince's Trust for help. We get loads of people ringing our office after being disappointed that they couldn't help and so were referred on to us...
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Richard.curran's Avatar Richard.curran Richard.curran is offline
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@ aa412

I understand - really we are saying the same things but the other way around -

The Prince's Trust is the same - their website (which is certainly motivational and all that) is not really the resource, its more about the people and the support they give you in the "real world".

I did not know that the Business Link offered the same service. I suspect it is because I am in Scotland and the Business Link does not have the infrastructure up here. Likewise this might be why I found the PSYBT to be so good as the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust (the relevant part of the PT for Scotland) is really good when you are there in the office and meeting the business advisor.

As for having a degree whoever said that is just unlucky, the Prince's Trust will certainly help you if you have a degree. You'd probably be more likely to get their small business grant if you have one for starters.

Its a shame that they did not get back to you, but I guess you are happy enough with the level of support you are getting when running your own business from what you've said about the Business Link.

@ Paul

The thing about starting a business and being unemployed is that they go hand in hand quite a lot. I have had to move back in with my mum. I used to live in a swanky flat and I was earning a good wage working in an Investment Bank, but I left that to do my own thing. Sure you take a hit cash and freedom wise but it is all about the long game when you run your own business. So being unemployed is not difficult to 'arrange' if you want help from the Prince's Trust.

Some people don't have that choice though, and they need to keep working to afford to live whilst still trying to start up their business, which is why you can find that an open dialogue with support services really helps.
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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Business Gateway / Business Link

Richard, apart from PSYBT have you had any dealings with Business Gateway?

For anyone that doesn't know, Business Gateway (www.bgateway.com) is the Scottish version of Business Link and if you look at their website you should see that it's pretty much the same content on both.
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Richard.curran's Avatar Richard.curran Richard.curran is offline
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Yes I met with the Business Gateway a number of years ago when I wanted to start up another business, I think I might have been 18 or so at the time. They are good and really helped with the business plan etc. I found that up here the PSYBT and Business Gateway can work hand in hand, in fact that £500 I was speaking about earlier is through the Business Gateway as far as I am aware. So if you are involved in the PSYBT then you are involved in Business Gateway one way or another.

I'm a people person though so I think everyone's great!
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Nubian Knightz Productions Nubian Knightz Productions is offline
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My experience with the prince's trust is the opposite from what most ppl are saying on here. i am the kind of young person they talk about they are there to help, so got on their programme, got a mentor and i must say they were clueless about my industry music business, i live in south london and had to travel to the otherside of london just to see the mentor very costly since the only sensible way to get there was using the tube. Every time i wanted to move things forward my mentor would arrange a meeting and when i asked if they could cover my travel costs they would give me all types of excuses and never saw nothing. i agree with the previous post that say they are more likely to fund you if you got a degree thats the impression i got with my mentor. I remember staying up nights working on the plan time and time again changing every thing the way the mentor requested but every change lead to another. i like getting things done asap not running up and down to meetings. As a creative in the music biz i dont think they understand the nature of the music business. never got offered no training so surprised when i hear others talk who had such good experiences with their mentors and the trust as a all maybe i got a not very good mentor. in the end i dropped out the programme never even received a call from the mentor or email to check up and find out why. Any one who lives in south london who had a good experience with the trust i would like to know who your mentor was especially if your industry is music or any of the other creatives.

As for the business link they were more helpful than the trust especially their phone service. all that info on their website is priceless i searched the internet in the forming of my business plan and there wasnt many site with specific business advice for the UK its alll mostly american. This is my longest post on here feels like i just walked out therapy. lol



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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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Great post Jay. Sorry to hear you had such a negative experience with the Trust, but it's good to hear everyone's story and it seems like you are now on the right track.
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