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SEEDA Welcomes the Support for Enterprise Announced in Todayís Budget

12 March 2008

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) welcomes the Government’s new measures to support business which are outlined in the Enterprise Strategy announced by the Chancellor today.

SEEDA Chief Executive, Pam Alexander, said: "We welcome the announcement in today’s budget to review and reform the regulatory framework, in particular, to reduce the unnecessary burden on small firms. This will address issues which we know are priorities for business. We are an organisation that listens to businesses in our region and then lobbies Government on their behalf. I am delighted at the emphasis placed on encouraging more people to start and grow their businesses with a focus on under-represented groups."

SEEDA will be piloting key schemes with Government and other RDAs, to support enterprise growth – including targeted support for women, young people and the over 50s. One key element of this is the creation of a Women’s Investment Fund, that the Government committed £12.5 million to today, with the aim of supporting a total of £25 million. The Fund will focus primarily on investing in women-led businesses and will provide increased networking support to other sources of finance. It is strongly endorsed by the UK Women’s Enterprise Task Force, co-chaired by Pam Alexander. This Fund will build on the work that SEEDA and Finance South East (FSE) have pioneered to offer women-owned businesses, specialist financial support. Over the past two years, the Funding Enterprising Women (FEW) programme, run by FSE, has supported over 40 business women with over £2 million of funding being raised to date.

SEEDA will also be piloting a Women’s Business Centre, learning from the successful US model. This will enable us to build on the foundations of our regional Women’s Enterprise strategy by encouraging and supporting more women to set up and grow their businesses. The establishment of a national Enterprise Academy in Slough, set up by Peter Jones, with match funding from Government is more good news for the region. SEEDA is committed to working with Peter Jones to establish the Academy.

The Strategy recognises SEEDA’s success in stimulating enterprise in higher education, and Government has asked SEEDA to expand this into an enterprise network with the Higher Education Entrepreneurship Group (HEEG).

SEEDA also welcomes the Strategy’s commitment to taking forward the new initiatives within the emerging Business Support Simplification Programme. This enhances the core role of Business Link as the primary access channel to business support. The RDAs have proved their credentials for running regionally delivered support programmes such as Business Link, and the Enterprise Strategy is both an endorsement of this work and an opportunity to build on this to stimulate enterprise within the South East region.

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