The Small Business Service: Business Support, Use, Fees and Satisfaction

Robert Bennett, Paul Robson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper seeks to assess advice and information support for firms provided by the Small Business Service (SBS) Business Link. It uses a new survey of client use, satisfaction and experience of service fees. The general level of satisfaction with and use of the service is high: 28 per cent of all respondents use the services and 82.6 per cent are satisfied or very satisfied. However, levels of use and satisfaction vary considerably between areas, with 13 Business Link local 'hubs' accounting for 40 per cent of the dissatisfied or very dissatisfied respondents. In addition, there is also strong variation in satisfaction between services, with grants, diagnostic assessment, financial and accounting advice having low ratings. Charging a fee has been claimed by the SBS to improve the client's sense of value of the services received. Fees are currently charged for services in 37.3 per cent of cases. However, there is little positive association of fee charging with satisfaction, whilst for four services charging a fee decreases satisfaction. It is concluded that the SBS has many strengths to build upon, but will need to introduce a step change in performance in some areas and some services, and should reconsider its commitment to using fees as a means of creating a sense of value among its clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173
Number of pages190
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • business advice
  • Small Business Service

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