Speculation is mounting over the future of Business Links and Training & Enterprise Councils, fuelled by the Chancellor's decision to create the £100 million Small Business Service (SBS).

The formation of the new service, which will deliver advice and support to help small firms grow, could eventually result in the demise of Business Links and Training & Enterprise Councils (TECs).

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett has announced changes to the operations of TECs, in advance of a major review to be heralded in the summer.

The key points are to strengthen partnership and accountability, improve the quality of work-based training, streamline contracting arrangements and support the Small Business Service announced in the Budget.

David Harbourne, recently-appointed chief executive of North Yorkshire TEC, welcomes the focus of the Government's aims. "They will build on our existing strengths and own aims," he said. "We already work in partnership, both nationally and locally.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.