Heseltine releases fresh funds for design

MICHAEL Heseltine, the President of the Board of Trade, has announced new funds of pounds 6m to promote the use of design by British industry.

Following a four-month review of policy on industrial design, the Design Council - so far the biggest recipient of public funds earmarked for that purpose - will shrink. Design services will be provided instead by Business Links, the national network of one-stop shops replacing local business support agencies such as training and enterprise councils and chambers of commerce.

Mr Heseltine said: 'We are taking this service out to the people who would not readily seek it of their own accord, and might not even realise that design was a vital ingredient in their business.'

John Sorrell, chairman of the Design Council and author of the review, said: 'There is a definite commitment by the Government, at a high level, to promote design as an effective business tool. New money is a powerful signal of this. It is up to the DTI to deliver the Business Links.'

The Design Council, 50 years old next December, will lose its regional branches and shed about 160 staff. It will become a policy-making and educational body. Its grant for the next financial year will be about the same as the pounds 7.5m it received for 1993/4, but will subsequently be reduced.

The pounds 6m boost will be spread over three years and ring-fenced so that it cannot be used for other services. It will come from within the Department of Trade and Industry's existing budget. The DTI expects 71 Business Links to be operating by the end of 1994.

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