Policy for small business support in rural areas: A critical assessment of the proposals for the Small Business Service

  • P. Lowe and H. Talbot (2000). Regional Studies, 479-487
  • Abstract: The Government is currently setting up the Small Business Service (SBS), due to be introduced in April 2000, with the first franchises for local outlets being in place from April 2001. This is likely to have consequences for industrial and economic policy and for the way government supports and regulates businesses. As well as being of significance to both individual firms and the national economy, the SBS will also have implications for local economic development. This article examines what is proposed, and assesses the implications specifically for rural economies. It is informed by a major study being conducted on the role of microbusinesses in the rural economy of the North East of England. Our particular focus is how the Small Business Service should improve business support provision for rural microbusinesses. Our starting point is that: rural and microbusinesses are important to the local economy, the community and to governance because of their importance, rural and micro-businesses warrant support in as coherent and planned a way as other firms some of their support needs may differ from larger or more urban companies, but many are generic needs where different means of delivery may be required with limited resources, prioritizations about which rural microbusinesses to support will have to be made; these should be based on the extent to which the firms contribute to broad public policy objectives the delivery of present services to numerous small and scattered firms is problematic; there needs to be a fundamental and innovative rethink of delivery mechanisms. The article begins with a brief examination of the Government's proposals and preparations for the SBS. It considers the justification for small business support from a rural perspective and critically assesses the thinking behind the Government's approach. It then looks at where the SBS proposals could improve on the existing local provision for rural and microbusinesses through Business Links (BLs). The concluding section argues for a true 'One Stop Shop' for all small businesses.
  • Theme: Policy/support programmes, Rural
  • Keywords: industrial policy, policy strategy, rural planning, small scale industry, United Kingdom
  • Reference type: Journal Article
  • Geographic location: United Kingdom, Europe, Global North
  • Quality:
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