New Whitehall plan to aid small businesses

A Government initiative to aid small businesses will benefit design groups, according to a Government spokesman – but will not send shock waves through the design community, says the Design Business Association.

President of the Board of Trade Ian Lang announced last week that ministers in 17 Government departments will be given responsibility for considering small firms. Each minister will be asked to safeguard the interests of firms employing fewer than 250 staff when developing new policies.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises should benefit,” says a Department of Trade and Industry spokesman, adding that this “obviously covers design groups”.

But Design Business Association chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill feels the initiative will make little difference to the design community. “The Government’s Business Links service gives us enough to be getting on with. That’s where design’s main benefits occur. I can’t see this new plan affecting us very much,” he says.

The UK has 3.6 million small companies which represent “the backbone of the economy”, explains Lang.

The Design Policy Unit at the DTI is expected to remain intact after an overhaul of the DTI. A DTI spokesman declines to give details of planned cuts in specific departments, but sources close to the unit say it is “fairly small anyway”. The overhaul, due by next April, will mean that over a quarter of top positions at the DTI will have been eliminated. An announcement is expected in November.

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