Remove age cap on start-up loans, says adviser

A report by the Prime Minister's adviser on enterprise, Lord Young, has recommended removing the age cap on the Government's loan scheme for start-ups.

Since its launch in September 2012, the Start-Up Loan Scheme has provided more £16 million worth of loans to start-up businesses, as well as access to mentoring support. In January, the qualifying age limit was raised from 18-24 to 30.

In his report on growing micro businesses, Lord Young recommends that the age cap of 30 should be removed altogether in order to extend 'the benefits of the scheme to all start-ups.'

Other recommendations from Lord Young's report include:

  • Abolish pre-qualification questionnaires on public sector contracts under €200,000 and create a 'single market' for doing business with the public sector
  • Establish a £30 million Growth Voucher programme to encourage more small firms to get specialist help in areas such as marketing and online growth
  • Encourage and incentivise business schools to take a greater role in the local economy and help SMEs grow with a national 'Supporting Small Business Charter'
  • Include private sector SME advice at the Government's GOV.UK website and allow third party providers to rebuild and improve the advice that was previously available at the closed Business Link website
  • Market Government schemes to support new and developing businesses more effectively, with proper resources and targeting of the small firms that need them most.

Commenting on the report, the principal adviser for enterprise at the Confederation of British Industry, Hayley Conboy, said:

"Lord Young rightly identifies that the Government needs to earmark funding to effectively market existing finance and support schemes. Most firms simply don't know what's available, so the new Business Bank will play a crucial role in raising awareness.

We support the recommendation to open up more government contracts to smaller firms by cutting out the requirement for them to complete a pre-qualifying questionnaire, as most smaller firms don't have the capacity to handle this."