SMALL and emerging businesses are about to lose their free Government-backed business advice service, but Huntingdonshire District Council is trying to step into the breach with a low-cost alternative.

Delivered by St John's Innovation Centre on behalf of HDC, the Boost your Business programme consists of a coaching programme and a series of workshops to develop essential skills.

It will replace advice that has previously been offered by Business Link, a service that disappears on November 25 as a result of Whitehall cuts.

The new coaching programme offers a number of companies the opportunity to attend an intensive planning day - facilitated by an accredited coach - to focus on strategic priorities for growth and develop a tailored action plan.

Selected companies will subsequently be offered the opportunity of up to four days of one-to-one coaching to help in the implementing their growth plans, at a greatly subsidised rate.

Boost your Business Skills is a series of workshops covering areas such as marketing, social media, raising finance and recruitment and will take place in Huntingdon and St Neots between next month and March 2012, with a charge of just £10 for each session.

Ben Hooson, senior economic development officer at HDC, said: "Through these initiatives Huntingdonshire-based businesses will have the opportunity to benefit from key specialist support to assist their development and growth."

INFORMATION: More at www.stjohns.co.uk/boost-your-business or by e-mailing events@stjohns.co.uk. Boost your Business Skills workshop will be: marketing strategy and planning, November 10, Pathfinder House, Huntingdon; sales and negotiations, November 23, Creative Exchange, St Neots; marketing your business on the web, December 7, Pathfinder House; social media: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, December 13, Pathfinder House; growing your team, January 11, Creative Exchange; raising finance for business, January 27, Pathfinder House; presenting your business, February 7, Creative Exchange; networking for business, February 22, Creative Exchange.