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Empty Government office plan for entrepreneurs


Ben Glaze,Dave Higgens
Monday 23 January 2012 16:35 GMT

Empty Government offices will be offered to budding entrepreneurs hoping to launch their own businesses, David Cameron said today.

The Prime Minister plans to open vacant and under-used workplaces to small firms and new enterprises in a bid to kick-start the economy.

He will announce the initiative during a visit to Yorkshire where he is due to address a group of entrepreneurs.

Mr Cameron said: "The British Government has a huge stock of buildings at our disposal.

"The first priority for the ones we aren't using is to sell them off, but in the meantime, many are going to be sitting idle.

"So let's match the capacity we've got with the need that's out there. Let's provide office space where we can to those who can use it."

The Government hopes to offer more than 300 premises at low rates for one year so new companies can establish themselves and small firms can benefit from cheap deals.

With cuts to the public payroll, many Government buildings lie empty or have space available as they await buyers.

As well as helping entrepreneurs, the initiative will give a much-needed boost to Treasury finances.

Speaking in a partially empty Government building in the centre of Leeds, Mr Cameron said: "I said 2012 has got to be the year we go for it, the year we light new fires of ambition in our economy, the year we get behind Britain's grafters, doers, hard-workers and entrepreneurs.

"This isn't something we'd quite like to do - it's something we've got to do because enterprise is critical to this country's future.

"Enterprise is what we do in Britain. This is the year that, more than ever, we've got to go for it."

The Prime Minister also launched a campaign aimed at encouraging people to believe "there is a business in everyone".

The Business in You drive will see companies hold workshops and give advice on tackling some of the issues faced by would-be bosses, with the scheme highlighted in radio, newspaper and billboard adverts throughout the year.

He told an audience of entrepreneurs: "Britain is a country with enterprise running through its veins." And he joked about how his daughter made mince pies on New Year's Day and sold them to his protection officers for a pound a time.

"Eight years old, I think it's a good spark of enterprise," he said.

Forum of Private Business chief executive Phil Orford said: "Start up businesses need all the help they can muster in order to grow and flourish, particularly in the current climate.

"So it's excellent to see the Government rolling its sleeves up and getting stuck in to the issue.

"We all know that for the UK economy to move forward and lift the country out of the doldrums there needs to be serious growth in the private sector.

"This is essential for the economy to rebalance itself with an emphasis on small and medium sized enterprises leading the charge forward. Britain has a rich history of entrepreneurship and we need to encourage more of that for that charge to see positive results."

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