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A community finance specialist has pledged to continue lending to high-risk social enterprises after writing off a loan of more than £60,000. The loan had been made to Third Wave Initiative Ltd, a Derby-based Christian charity specialising in training and supported housing. Third Wave was forced to call in receivers in December 2000 when bankers NatWest refused to accept a restructuring plan. The loss, described by Icof chair Charlie Cattell in his annual report as a ‘costly technicality’, will be covered by ICC’s parent company. Shareholders can rest assured that every aspect of this sorry episode has been analysed in detail and lessons learned for the future,’ he added.

We are confident that the organisation is quite able to cover any lending losses, and we would not want to change strategy – that would defeat the object of setting the company up. A deal with East Midlands Regional Development Agency to support the costs of a share issue – likely to total £100,000 – has already been signed and a similar agreement with the East of England Development Agency is imminent. The RDAs’ money will enable ICC to seek investors in new regional loan funds for social enterprises. They’re backing a business proposition that if they pay the development costs of a share issue, we can raise money for on-lending in the region,’ Mr Hibbert said. ‘I think it will be a model for other regions to go for. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey of 18,000 members shows that over the last year just 11% used Business Links or their equivalents in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The survey, published this week by DTI small business minister Nigel Griffiths, is a blow to the reformed Business Links’ struggle for credibility. Read more: E Conveyancing Melbourne

The north east, where 19% said they were satisfied, came out top, with Scottish and Northern Irish enterprise services close behind. An FSB spokesperson said the Business Links network, managed by the Small Business Service, was better at helping businesses get off the ground than helping them grow. Within the last couple of months the government has decided the SBS should concentrate on business support and advice rather than also acting as the voice for small businesses within the heart of government.

The survey also showed that crime is damaging more than 40% of small businesses, 20% use credit cards to help finance their ventures, and concerns about red tape remain widespread. None of the respondents were satisfied with local economic development services and just 1% were happy with local consultation with small businesses.

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