GOV.UK was brought up in Parliament yesterday. Some praise, and I liked the challenge laid down to improve the usability.
Lord Leigh of Hurley:
In fact, last week I attempted to put myself in the shoes of such an SME businessman and visited the government website to seek help. As your Lordships may know, the new entry portal for all government help is http://www.gov.uk and on the very front page there is a link to business. Within two clicks I reached a page that enabled me to read about government-backed support and finance for my imaginary business. This in itself is incredibly impressive. However, unfortunately the clarity ended there. To my horror, the next page offered a choice of 791 different schemes to assist me. Equal prominence was given to the somewhat parochial Barking Enterprise Centre and the Crofting Counties Agricultural Grant Scheme in Elgin. While undoubtedly very worth while, they were given the same prominence as the perhaps more relevant export credit guarantee scheme. There is of course the opportunity to filter down your requirements, and I did then select finance for a business based in London with up to 250 employees in the service sector at the growth stage, and this managed to narrow the schemes down to 42, although surprisingly no filter was offered for people looking specifically for export finance. Accordingly, I would like to suggest providing a very early help button in the government website so that potential SME exporters can have short but direct conversations with experienced UKTI advisers about the route through the maze that is offered to them—because the help is actually there. I believe that this was included in Recommendations 11 and 12 of the Select Committee report, but I have not found any real evidence of their being implemented.