Wobbly Business Link West Midlands in trouble again

Businesslink Over twenty advisors at Business Link West Midlands are facing the chop as the quango is accused of underachieving and consequently failing the very business community it was set-up to assist (Birmingham Post).


The staff have been put on 30-day gardening leave whilst the Institute of Directors carries out a consultation expected to conclude on 19th September.


Business Link West Midlands have ping-ponged from one disastrous situation to another by the sounds of things, and when its various strands merged last year, their own staff were accusing it of wasting taxpayers’ money.


Worse still, the business community, far from queuing out the door to receive the organisation’s restorative advice, actually gave the quango a wide-birth and subsequently its then Chief Executive, David Draycott, resigned as plans to shed 150 office staff and advisers were announced.


Fair to say, things weren’t going swimmingly.


Enter Advantage West Midlands, who (predictably) fund this failing operation, and made efforts to rescue it by “parachuting in secondees at management level”, no doubt equipped with financial defibrillators, in an all-out attempt to bring it back to life. But did they really achieve anything?Businesslinkadvert_9


Unfortunately it seems Business Link West Midlands is still in trouble, new Chief Executive Alison White explaining that they have now ‘looked at’ the client-facing side of the organisation to ensure they give the best advice. This very much implies that this was a problem area, and yet Business Link’s mandate is (in its own words) to provide “support, information and advice”, so it looks as though Ms White’s carefully worded comments are actually a euphemism trying to cover the fact that they’ve been offering sub-standard "information and advice".


The subtext of the article really doesn’t take much analysis: the offerings of Business Link West Midlands have been so misleading that the organisation has been potentially damaging for business in the area.   

Despite this fiasco the Chief Executive remains improbably optimistic; commenting that “we have strong aspirations to become the best publicly funded business support organisation in the country”. 


There’s nothing wrong with a little positivity, but if they were to review their own business as they’ve tried to review other private businesses, they may well find an organisation beyond resuscitation that continues to devour money from the public purse and yet produces very few real results.


Just how much more of this shuffling around will be allowed to go on before the viability of Business Link West Midlands is seriously called in to question? And how much more money can AWM justify sinking into a quickly deteriorating, black-hole of a quango, before they pull the plug?


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