The site has been live for a couple of weeks now but it’s the first chance I’ve had to take a good look around, and on the whole I’d say it’s a very good step forward. I was always a big fan of Business Link’s services and in the early days of self employment got some great advice from many free business events and seminars across Birmingham. I also had my own assigned phone advisor/ case worker who provided personalised action plans to help set me up on the right track. When it was announced that these services were being cut and replaced by a purely online database my heart sank a little. The old website was the worst thing about the service and like entering a worm hole, once you’d been led down one path you’d never find your way back. Many a time you’d have to resort to clicking on the homepage and starting again. aims to replace the Business Link and Direct Gov sites into one portal that is simpler, clearer, faster. On the whole it succeeds, the structure is much better and the guides provided a lot clearer, I did notice some teething issues with some of the video links and print guides but that is to be expected when pooling together such vast online resources. There is a ‘Is there something wrong with this page’ link with a simple form to you can fill in to report issues which is a good move. You can read up a little about the sites design principles here.

Unfortunately for any official form filing you are taken out of the site to the god awful HMRC which is in dire need of an overhaul, but I presume full integration is a long way off. I’d certainly consider it a step in the right direction but can’t help but feel no matter how good the site design and layout gets, it stands no chance of living up to face to face advice Business Link used to be able to offer.