HELPING local businesses survive the credit crunch is the aim of a ministerial meeting Harrow's Labour councillors are setting up.
The borough has one of the largest number of self-employed workers of any British district or borough and one local commerce chief said such outfits need help badly.
Meanwhile, larger enterprises most at risk from the slowing economy - like financial institutions and holiday firms - told the Observer they expect to endure the squeeze.
A mini-website containing advice to combat the credit crunch that was launched by Harrow Council two months ago has been visited more than 750 times.
Now Labour leader Bill Stephenson said Harrow East MP Tony McNulty was helping he and his colleagues to arrange to meet a government minister in the next month.
He said: "We want somebody who has experience of regenerating local business and has some ideas about how we can help.
"At the same time, we would want the minister to advertise the programmes and policies the Government has put in place, so local businesses are aware of them."
But things look bleak for our smallest firms, according to Allen Pluck, chief executive of enterprise agency Harrow in Business, based in Pinner Road, Harrow.
He said: "They're starting to feel the pinch and quite badly and there's not a great deal that can be done.
"We're certainly getting a lot more enquiries about giving business advice to help people with some of their financial difficulties.
"In previous 'recessions' the government has been quick to help small businesses. This time round they have done nothing whatsoever."
In the wake of the collapse of travel firm XL and the flagging airline Alitalia, Vishal Patel, sales and marketing manager for holiday firm Travelpack, whose head office is in Lowlands Road, Harrow, said: "It's been a difficult year but we'll definitely pull through it.
"We have seen a dip in terms of the value of holidays coming down. The expensive, luxury holidays have seen more of a boom and more people seem to be going for budget holidays. But the mid-range holidays, (up to £1,500) have taken a big drop.
"We have a loyal following and we're a brand name within the travel trade."
GE Money, based in College Road, Harrow, operates in the same specialist mortgage market as Northern Rock, but unlike that company does not lend other people's money or sell on customers' debts.
Its head of external communications, Mark Maguire, said: "While we're not immune to the turbulence in the market, we're well positioned to ride out that turbulence: we're part of General
Electric, which is pretty big and financially sound.
"There is no direct threat to employ-ees in our Harrow office at this time."
* Harrow in Business is holding a Business Advice Open Day at Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, on Saturday, November 15 that will be free to businessmen and women who pre-register.