The Government has unveiled plans to free up an extra £2b to lend viable businesses through the banks and make working with the public sector easier, as part of a series of measures to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
The plans come as part of a package of initiatives announced by small business minister Mark Prisk.
Prisk said: "As a former small business owner I know how important our SMEs are to the growth of this country. I entered Government with the goal of making this the most entrepreneurial decade in our history and I'm confident today's announcements will help make that a reality."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said the Government would continue with the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme for the next four years, making £2b available to viable small companies without a credit history or collateral.
The Government also indicated that it would commit £200m more to Enterprise Capital Funds, supporting investment in high growth potential business over four years.
Cable added: "Small businesses are critical for growth in this country. But to expand they need access to a range of finance options. The Government is doing its part by supporting a further £2b of bank lending through the popular Enterprise Finance Guarantee, which will provide real help to viable small companies looking to grow. Now we need the banks to play their part and increase normal commercial lending to get the economy growing."
Meanwhile the Government is also planning to make it easier to do business with the public sector. "We have set a goal to award a quarter of government contracts to SMEs. We will work with departments to ensure they are fulfilling this aim and expect them to increase their rate of SME procurement each year," the department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) said in a statement.
It added that from December 2010 it would introduce a standardised Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, developed in co-operation with the Federation of Small Businesses, and make its use mandatory across central Government.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: "We believe small businesses and social enterprises have a vital role to play in the growth of the UK economy and we are committed to making it easier for these organisations to compete for Government business.
"Today's package of measures announced by the Cabinet Office will help to remove the barriers many small businesses face and eliminate complexities and waste in the procurement process. They will also ensure we are on our way to hitting our aspiration that 25% of Government contracts go to small and medium enterprises."
By Neil Gerrard
E-mail your comments to Neil Gerrard here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs