Business Link to close offices but open national call centre

Contractor accountants may like to know that Business Link, the government funded department that provides information and support to SMES, is to be scaled back.

Business Link offices will cease operations on the 25th of November, but support will still be available through the online portal. 175 government websites have been merged into the online portal over the last three years, with the overall aim being to improve the experience for people setting up their own business.

The ‘What’s new?’ page has links to a host of news items including regulatory changes and the new penalties for late filing of income tax self-assessment forms. The site also contains online training materials and links to relevant government services.

A totally new feature of the site, which is still under development, is the ‘tax dashboard’. This should prove to be a very useful feature for all businesses as it will provide a single overview of a company’s main liabilities.

However, not everybody is happy about the changes. There are concerns that the less IT savvy amongst us will struggle to find impartial advice about setting up a business if they can’t refer to a human. To address these concerns, the government has decided to set up a national call centre so that offline firms can access the information they need.

Some private sector organisations have also risen to the challenge and set up their own service. Last week, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales set up a business advice service to help SMEs and is offering businesses a free consultation with one of its members.

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