Babies are looking nervously over the edge of the bath!
As the implications of the demise of AWM, its constituent components start to take hold and vested interest groups start to pick over its bones in the good name of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), Paul Heaven of Blue Sky Corporate Finance Ltd warns that “there are a good many babies out there looking nervously over the edge of the bath”.
Paul explained “love them or hate them, Advantage West Midlands was responsible for pretty much all of the regions support programmes for business support. As we migrate from the RDA model to the LEP alternative, just about all of these programmes are currently suspended, inactive or in turmoil. The mood music that is coming out of Whitehall suggests that the coalition government acknowledge the importance of small to medium sized businesses leading us out of recession but the reality out there on the streets is that there is a vacuum in the market at the moment. The staff at AWM and Business Link that have not already been given redundancy notices are dusting of their CVs and programmes like the R&D grant, investment readiness and access to finance are suspended pending clarification of future funding”.
Paul further comments “Some of these programmes represent the difference between a good idea getting off the ground or withering and dying on the vine and at a time when the economic recovery is fragile at best, the present lack of clarity and certainty is unhelpful to put it mildly. As far as I can tell, it is not even certain that business support will fall under the remit of the LEPs and even if it does, then it will be months before they know what sort of budget they have to do anything about. Even its harshest critics would acknowledge that AWM gave birth to some good schemes in the area of business support, but right now, some of these babies are feeling a tad unloved!”.