The Barnett government has scrapped funding for a small business training scheme as it seeks to rein in spending to preserve its modest budget surplus.
The Department of Training and Workforce Development has confirmed that the Small Business Smart Business training voucher program will no longer be offered from the end of this year as a result of belt-tightening initiatives in this month’s state budget.
Scrapping the scheme will save the government almost $1.8 million over the forward years.
Under the scheme, introduced by the Court government in 2000, small businesses could apply to receive vouchers of up to $200 as reimbursement for training expenses.
According to the Department of Training and Workforce Development, 2,125 vouchers were issued in 2012-13.
Training and Workforce Development Minister Terry Redman says the department will not go ahead with a planned second release of vouchers for the current funding period due to budgetary constraints, despite a number of program administrators being close to exhausting their allocation.
"The 2013-14 State Budget has put pressure on all State Government agencies to make savings," Mr Redman said.
"In the Training and Workforce Development portfolio, the emphasis is on determining where to make changes to funding while ensuring the portfolio retains its primary focus of building a workforce, skilled in priority occupations, for Western Australia."
An evaluation of the program found that 60 per cent of respondents believed the training had changed the way they ran their business and 71 per cent reported they felt training was the key to their business success.
The government expects to save a total of $422 million over four years through scrapping existing programs that do not provide value for money, as part of a fiscal action plan it hopes will deliver $6.8 billion worth of savings.
Program rationalisation in the Department of Training and Workforce Development is set to save the government $30 million over the next four years.
The Barnett government is forecast to deliver a narrow $386 million surplus for 2013-14 before handing down a $147 million budget deficit in 2014-15, with a blowout in spending and net debt set to place significant strain on the state's finances.