The UK government has announced it will complete the migration of content from more than 170 publicly-funded websites for businesses to Businesslink.gov.uk by April 2011.
As a single government website for businesses, Businesslink.gov.uk will provide facilities such as a Business Start-up Hub that includes online company registration, and a ‘contracts finder’ to allow firms to search for public procurement opportunities. Companies will also be able to find information about training services and regulations on the site.
Last year, the government announced it would close a majority of its websites in a bid to cut costs. Businesslink.gov.uk was one of the worst examples of a site with low usage and high costs, of £2.15 per visit, according to a report.
In the overhaul of its services to businesses, the Department for Business (BIS) plans to host externally developed training modules, after the implementation of new online training capabilities, by June 2011.
Meanwhile, the Mentoring Gateway, a network of at least 40,000 experienced business mentors offering practical advice to existing businesses and people who want to start a business, will also go live by then.
Furthermore, the government announced that BIS will set up a national call centre for businesses by September 2011.
The services refresh was revealed as prime minister David Cameron announced the expansion of the scope of its New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), which the government believes will help create up to 40,000 new businesses by 2013.
The NEA aims to help unemployed people set up their own businesses. It will be launched later this month in Merseyside, and rolled out nationwide from autumn.
Cameron said that the NEA will be available to twice as many people as was originally planned, providing financial support, access to a start-up loan and a business mentor.
“It is vital that we ensure businesses, and those people who find themselves out of work but have the drive and desire to set up their own business, have all the advice, support and mentoring they need,” said Cameron.
To claim the allowance, applicants need to develop a business plan which is approved as viable by their proposed mentor.