Flemish EHBO plan to provide lifeline for small businesses
The number of bankruptcies has reached a record height this year. Compared to the total of 3 992 business that went under in 2007 and the 4 902 in 2011, there could be as many as 5 300 by the end of this year. In view of these rather alarming figures and the fact that business confidence and negative economic growth prospects seem to be looming, the Flemish government plans to jump in with some help support for businesses. “The figures speak for themselves. The situation is grave,” stresses minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V, who is also tasked with the economy portfolio. “And it will probably deteriorate in 2013.” Existing support programmes have only managed to achieve limited success. As businesses seem to be reluctant to approach the government when they’re in trouble, another approach has now been taken and Peeters has allocated 5 million euros to start a system that will see these struggling businesses actively traced. This will no longer be done by the Flemish administration, but by the employers organisations themselves. A scanning system will be used to map out the problems of these businesses and to seek the best possible first-line advice. For those businesses that are buoyant enough to recover, a start-up-again plan will be drafted. If it’s too late for this option, ways will be explored to close, transfer or liquidate the business. Small business owners who are keen to follow this route can currently receive a subsidy of 50%. But it seems only about 100 have made use of this facility during past years. Now that the subsidy had been increased to 75% it is hoped that many more will make use of it. If it proves to be successful, the budget could eventually be increased.