The launch of the Small Business Service in the United Kingdom stimulated a review of small business policy and support in the United Kingdom. The Service inherited a substantial number of policies and initiatives which have been criticised for their poorly stated aims and overall lack of coherence. The authors examine justifications for small business policy in Britain and the role of research in small business policymaking. They suggest that research has had relatively little impact, and some reasons why this has been the case. They also suggest ways of setting a small business research agenda -- raising standards and ensuring the independence of research. Attention is given to the evaluation of small business policy and initiatives. It is argued that currently this is not sufficiently independent or rigorous, and the authors suggest remedies. Both quantitative and qualitative evaluation approaches are examined in order to redefine good practice. The overall aim is to suggest how the Small Business Service can be better supported by research and evaluation, enabling it to function more successfully than its predecessors.