The paper chase that firms face when seeking grants must end, business warned today.

The West Midlands Business Council has proposed a number of measures to improve publicly funded support services to micro, small and medium sized companies.

It comes in response to a Government consultation on the issue. The Council's business support working group chairman - and a member of the CBI's SME Council - Peter Wall said: "Publicly funded business support programmes should focus on helping with the development of smaller businesses.

"However, a plethora of Government schemes has led to firms needing to follow a paper chase of grants instead of where the real action should be - the chase to successful growth.

"In our submission to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform's consultation we urge the Government to use public money wisely."

Proposals include developing services for firms in different business sectors and fitting the needs of different sizes of business - no more one size fits all.

A new system should ensure the fundamentals in any particular business are sound, says the report.

And greater continuity in business support is required.

Mr Wall went on: "Frequent changes in publicly funded business support schemes have undermined business confidence.

"That is why we have told the Government that any changes they want to follow through on must go with the grain of new West Midlands regional structures in business support.

"A fresh round of uncertainty would be bad for business and bad for delivering value for public money.

"The recommendations in our submission would tackle the Government to-ing and fro-ing on business support - and would make a real difference in further ensuring business support services went further in helping to create jobs and prosperity for every family at the heart of the UK."

WMBC says it believes that much criticised Business Links - a West Midlands shake-up flopped in the spring - "can deliver".

Mr Wall said: "It has been invaluable for my small Birmingham manufacturing firm, WG Eaton. Eatons is now in a good competitive position - and my business would not have got there had it not been for the diversity of support available through Business Links."