Business Link Website Closure Announced

Gov.ukThis morning the official announcement of the Business Link website closure came as the Government emailed thousands of small business owners across the country.

Business Link, the Government-funded business advice service established in 1993, saw its network of local business advisors axed last year and the Business link portal, which has been active since May 2004, will finally close to the public on 17th October 2012.

The DirectGov website, the Government’s single point of access website to public sector information and services, will also shut down on the same day.

Both the Business Link and DirectGov websites will be replaced by the single Gov.uk portal.

The move is the latest in a series of cost-cutting exercises by the Government following a review by Martha Lane Fox of online public sector services in October 2010.

Since the review, some 1,700 government websites have been culled and £41 million in website costs have been saved since July 2011. There are now just 383 government websites.

A Cabinet Office document Reporting on progress: Central government websites 2011/12 (PDF), says that the running costs of government websites was nearly £108 million for the 2011-2012 period and in 2010 the BBC called Business Link The £105 million website. The running costs of the Business Link portal were apparently £35 million a year whilst the new Gov.uk portal has a reported budget of just £1.7 million.

On top of the considerable cost savings, the new Gov.uk website, in its own words:

“…has been designed to meet users needs first. This will make services and information simpler, clearer and faster to use and understand, while still providing users with comprehensive answers.”

In other words, GOV.UK is supposed to be "simpler, clearer and faster". The Government Digital Service (GDS) a small team of designers & developers has stated that they’re using open source software and tools as much as possible with greater use of cloud hosting than before.

Tom Loosemore, deputy director of GDS, speaking to Techweek Europe, said of the latest Government portal:

“What it means is – we’re building GOV.UK the way Google build Google and Amazon build Amazon.”

Not all the information on BusinessLink.gov.uk will be transferred to the new website so SMEs will have to use other sources like is4profit.com for their business advice.

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