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The Government has teamed up with the private sector to give a much-needed boost to ecommerce in the UK.

A network of 16 "eBusiness Clubs" has been set up with help from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to provide advice for small businesses looking to tap into ecommerce.

The move is backed by the Government's UK Online for Business initiative along with private sector heavyweights including BT, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

The club organisers say they will provide practical help and support for small businesses looking to adopt ebusiness in their everyday operations.

According to David Lennan, head of the BCC, these clubs are much more than techie talking shops and will give UK businesses an advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

"Small firms in the UK are currently holding back when it comes to getting online and consequently, this lends itself to the erosion of UK competitiveness," he said.

"What is needed is a collaborative approach where everybody in the community rolls their sleeves up and works together to re-position the UK as a serious global ecommerce player."

However, ecommerce minister Douglas Alexander denied that any move to get UK businesses online would be undermined by the lack of affordable and widely available broadband services in Britain.

He said that broadband remained a "continuing challenge" before adding that he would like to see the cost of high-speed Internet access fall.

In November, a damning report by the BCC warned that continuing problems concerning cost and the lack of availability of high speed Internet access was "inhibiting the development of ecommerce and ebusiness" in the UK.

The report called for the Government to scrap its obsession with setting targets and instead focus its resources on improving infrastructure, online security and consumer confidence. ®

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