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BUSINESS LINK PASSES THE QUALITY TEST

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The first Business Link has passed the stiff quality test designed to ensure a high standard of service to its cust...
The first Business Link has passed the stiff quality test designed to ensure a high standard of service to its customers, Richard Page, small business minister announced today. All Business Links will have to pass this three year scrutiny if they are to continue to operate. Mr Page also welcomed they endorsement of the Business Link network by the Trade and Industry Committee in their report on Business Links.

Business Link Wirral has satisfied an independent accreditation board* that it has achieved the BS EN ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard, achieved Investors In People status and has met stringent customer service targets. These targets include meeting timescales for the delivery of services, accuracy of information, providing services appropriate to customers needs, professionalism in approach, ensuring that customers return to the Business Link for other services and that services clearly benefit the customer.

Business Link Wirral will now be re licensed by the DTI to operate for another three years - subject to regular monitoring of its performance. Every three years all Business Links will have to meet the same high quality standards.

Mr Page said:

'We have set up one of the toughest quality assurance systems in the country because firms need to know they can get a consistent high level of service from the Business Link network. Nearly 7,000 firms are using Business Links each week and in order to guarantee high quality services we cannot be complacent.

'So, every three years each Business Link will have to reapply to an independent board for a licence to operate, and their quality management arrangements will be monitored through regular visits and reports in between.

'I congratulate all members of staff and partners at Business Link Wirral who have worked with such commitment to set up a truly customer focused service for businesses in their area. Business Links across the country are working towards this same challenge.

'This all round effort is recognised in the Trade and Industry Committee's report which concludes that the creation of the Business Link network in such a short space of time is a considerable achievement. The report includes various recommendations and we will give these careful consideration before giving a formal response in due course.

'In the meantime, we will continue with our support of the Business Link network both by helping to ensure high quality and by providing over £270m in ongoing funding for services over the next three years. This is in addition to pump priming money and will help meet the running costs of Business Links. Already, there are five Business Links who have come to the end of three years of pump priming funding and are successfully providing services to their customers.'

-- The Business Link Accreditation Board* is an independent panel made up of representatives from public and private sector organisations including Business Link customers. Members include Oxfordshire CC chief executive John Harwood.

-- All Business Links are private sector organisations. They have boards of directors drawn from partners and local businesses. Partners include; Training and Enterprise Councils, Chambers of Commerce, the Local Authorities, the Enterprise Agencies, universities, banks and others.

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