• Job creation
• Efficiency gains (capital per worker)
• Innovation (creating new things or doing
• New technology adoption
• More business starts
• More (fast) growth businesses
• When there is a case to be made that the
public returns to intervening in the market to
fill a ‘gap’ will create additional positive
returns that go above and beyond what the
market (i.e private sector) can appropriate
• When there is a case to be made that there is
a ‘missing’ market and government
intervention can have a ‘demonstration’ effect
• Building human capital (skills and
• Debt gaps (soft loans, grants, partial credit
• Equity gaps (seed capital, early stage, growth
• Unemployment to self-employment (training
and ‘wage’ subsidy)
• What would have happened if?
• What is an appropriate comparator?
• When should we evaluate (timing)?
• What are our measures of success?
BL Health Checks
• Health Checks provide a free and impartial assessment of business
performance and managerial and strategic competencies.
• The service is delivered through a national network of Business Link
Advisers who aim to identify areas where a lack of capacity makes
SMEs more vulnerable to the effects of the current economic
• The key characteristics of the Health Check include the provision of
a business diagnostic service, identification of areas for
improvement and help accessing the full range of government
assistance and the services of other providers where it is deemed
• By August 2009, Health Checks have supported over 80,000
businesses, the vast majority being SMEs.
• The journey through the Health Check process
• 93 per cent of all SMEs accessing Health Checks had found it easy to make contact
with Business Link.
• The initial approach came from businesses to Business Link in almost two-thirds
(65 per cent) of cases.
• More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of businesses accessing Health Checks wanted
basic advice, and 32 per cent sought longer-term, in-depth, assistance.
• The ‘typical’ business accessing a Health Check was looking for support in four
areas of business and strategic management. The most popular areas of support
sought related to finding out more about grants and other financial support
(sought by 71 per cent of assisted businesses), help with improving marketing (54
per cent) and help with increasing their customer base (53 per cent).
• When asked about the single most important reason for seeking support,
responses included: accessing information about grants and other financial
support (31 per cent of assisted businesses), help with improving marketing (18
per cent), and identifying ways of increasing the customer base (eleven per cent).
• Impact of Health Checks on business behaviours and outcomes
• As a result of the Health Check, 65 per cent of businesses had a better understanding of areas for
development and improvement in their businesses. 64 per cent had new ideas for future actions to help
improve their business.
• Of those with new ideas to improve their business, 72 per cent had already fully, or partially, implemented
• Overall, three-fifths (59 per cent) of all assisted businesses were making significant changes to their
business practices as a direct result of the Health Check.
• Nearly two-fifths of assisted businesses experienced at least some additional gain to their business as a
result of the help they received through the Health Check and a further fifth will achieve similar outcomes
but more quickly.
• On the timing of potential benefits attributable to Health Checks, eight per cent of assisted businesses had
already realised all the expected benefits, 30 per cent expect to realise them in the next year, 40 per cent
expect the benefits to be realised over a longer time period.
• In terms of immediate impacts directly attributable to Health Checks, 52 per cent of assisted businesses
reported that they were better positioned to take advantage of an economic upturn, 46 per cent that
they had improved their marketing capabilities, 43 per cent were better positioned to cope with the
economic downturn and 45 per cent better at business planning. In general, younger and smaller
businesses had the most positive immediate impacts.
• 56 per cent of assisted businesses expected that their turnover will increase as a direct result of their
Health Check, 37 per cent that they would employ more staff, 54 per cent that profits would increase, 58
per cent that they were more likely to survive the current economic downturn, 50 per cent that they
would invest more in their business and 45 per cent that they would increase staff training. Generally,
businesses that are younger, smaller or growing were most likely to report the most positive immediate or
anticipated impacts on their business.
SFLG (now EFG)
• Objectives of SFLG
• The SFLG was the government’s primary debt finance instrument, which
was established in 1981. SFLG seeks to address the market failure in the
provision of debt finance by providing a Government guarantee to banks
in cases where a business with a viable business plan is unable to raise
finance because they can not offer security for their debt and/ or lack a
track record. This rationale still underpinned the SFLG at the time of the
evaluation. The key characteristics of the scheme is the government
guarantee (the proportion of the outstanding loan balance covered by the
government in the event of loan default) and the government premium
(paid by businesses).
• Over the last decade, take up of the scheme has averaged around 4,500
loans per year, although there have been fluctuations between individual
• In January 2009, SFLG was replaced by the Enterprise Finance Guarantee
(EFG), which opened the scheme to a wider number of businesses, with
the specific objective to facilitate new bank lending in response to the
• Scheme impact:
• Holding business characteristics constant, SFLG businesses:
• Are 6% more likely to export than similar non-borrowing
• Are 17% more likely to use new technology, and 24% more likely to
use “cutting edge technology” than similar borrowing firms
• Are equally as productive as similar borrowing and non borrowing
• Grew at a similar rate to other businesses in terms of sales, but
grew more quickly in terms of employment than businesses that did
not borrow. At the sample mean, this equates to 1.45 additional
• Furthermore, ethnic minorities led businesses and those located in
deprived areas are overrepresented in SFLG compared to similar
businesses that borrow.
• Benefit to the economy
• Even with conservative assumptions, SFLG is
found to have a net benefit to the economy
over the first two years of businesses receiving
an SFLG loan. For every £1 spent, there is a
return of £1.05 to the economy through
additional economic output as measured by
• The 3,100 SFLG supported businesses in 2006 have created
between 3,550 to 6,340 additional jobs in the two years following
receipt of the loan, at a cost of between £5,500 to £10,000 per
• The 3,100 SFLG supported businesses in 2006 have created
between £75m and £150m additional sales over two years.
• The 3,100 SFLG supported businesses in 2006 SFLG were
responsible for £33m exports per annum.
• Government intervention can have an effect
• But these effects are not equally distributed
across entrepreneurs and firms (targeting is
• Timing is critical as we have to allow time for
the effects to fully play out
• Setting up a system of management
information before an intervention becomes
operational is key
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