Business Link in demand


Businesses in the south west are increasingly seeking advice on cash flow management and effectively planning their way through the economic downturn, according to figures from Business Link and survey evidence from the South West RDA.


More than 900 businesses in the region have received intensive, one-to-one help from Business Link advisers since the end of October 2008, with more than three-quarters of these being firms with nine employees or less and many thousands more businesses have accessed essential information online.


Top of the agenda has been the issue of cash flow and late payments, which is now becoming critical to many small businesses. This is followed by requests for advice on spreading risk associated with over-reliance on a one major customer and then effective business and staff planning.


Approximately one-fifth (18%) of businesses state that cost of finance is their main cost pressure at present.  Access to finance is an important consideration for competitiveness for 45% of businesses. 


The South West RDA is playing a key role in co-ordinating and managing a diverse range of support for more than 418,000 businesses in the region, with much of the work on the front line being done through its delivery partner, Business Link, which is funded by the Agency.


Stephen Peacock, South West RDA Executive Director of Enterprise and Innovation, said: “Our research shows that companies of all sizes and across a growing number of sectors are experiencing real difficulties or weakening confidence in the current economic climate.


The region’s economy has made strong progress in the last decade and we are taking a lead in helping businesses through this difficult time, as well as planning for future growth, by simplifying and improving access to all of the business support products we invest in and implement as well as developing new initiatives.


“This broad package of support includes coordinating the response to large companies in difficulty and timely advice and guidance, through Business Link, to help businesses manage through these challenging times.”