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Addressing inequalities in business - Call for Evidence

   Greater Manchester Doing Things Differently    Funded by UK Government  Levelling Up

Call for Evidence: Addressing Inequalities in Business Support Provision in Greater Manchester

GMCA has secured UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) to support local businesses to thrive. This funding will be used to deliver a core programme of business support as well as programmes focused on helping entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and promoting innovation.

Some of the funding will also trial experimental approaches to addressing inequalities in the availability, access, experience and outcomes of local business support.

To inform this, GMCA is gathering evidence from key stakeholders about where inequalities in accessing and benefitting from business support services currently exist and how these inequalities could be effectively reduced.

What is business support?

The purpose of business support services is to help businesses and entrepreneurs to reach their goals, whether this is to start, grow, innovate or become environmentally sustainable. The support may be delivered through business planning sessions with a mentor, workshops, peer networking events or accessing advice on how to apply for a loan, for example.

In Greater Manchester, some of these services are delivered by the Business Growth Hub (external website), whilst others are delivered by universities, community and voluntary organisations and private companies.   

What do we mean by inequalities in relation to business support?

Inequalities exist where people have different opportunities to access and benefit from business support services. People’s experience of inequalities could be determined by personal characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity or disability. More information on the characteristics of people who experience inequalities in Greater Manchester is available on the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities Commission website.

We are interested in gathering evidence that describes inequalities in the availability, access, experience and outcomes of local business support, and how these are being/can be overcome.

Why is evidence needed?

A recent review undertaken in Greater Manchester around delivering impactful business support services found the evidence to be relatively sparse. This becomes even more pronounced when considering how business support works for people from across Greater Manchester’s diverse communities. To help in the design of more inclusive business support services, GMCA wants to build the widest evidence base possible and is undertaking an open call to seek input from business representative organisations, business networks and groups and organisations involved in the delivery of business support and/or other support to diverse communities of business leaders or entrepreneurs.

What kind of evidence do we need?

We would like to gather evidence to address inequalities in business support and in creating more inclusive business support services. For example, we are interested in studies that examine particular models of support and aim to make an assessment of their impact on businesses from different communities. Similarly, we are interested in studies of business support interventions that were targeted at particular demographics or communities.

Given the sparsity of the evidence base, the availability of studies such as those noted above may be limited. We would therefore also welcome responses from business networks, bodies or organisations with experience of the needs of businesses within particular communities.

We would particularly welcome evidence that describes:

  • Where there are gaps in provision of business support which target and address the needs of specific individuals and communities.
  • How access to business support services is limited for some individuals and communities and any activities that have sought to address this.
  • How the experience of business support may be different for some individuals or communities and how tailoring of support can make it more effective.
  • How outcomes from business support (such as increasing turnover, hiring new staff or launching new products or services) are different for some individuals or communities.
  • What inclusive business support looks like.
  • Where experimentation in business support design and delivery might be particularly helpful.

What’s the deadline for responses?

The deadline for responses is 12pm on 22nd September 2023. Responses received after this date may not be considered.

How do I respond to this Call for Evidence? 

Please open this Response Template (PDF, 2MB) and email your written response to

What will happen next?

We will review all of the submitted evidence and prepare a report summarising the responses, which will then be used to inform the commissioning of future business support services.

The evidence base will also be used to inform the approach of existing business support services.

The report will not name the individual(s) or organisation(s) providing evidence without first checking for approval.

Where respondents provide evidence that is particularly helpful in shaping the programme, we may ask for further input or guidance.

Please read GMCA's privacy notice before submitting your response to understand how your data will be used.