Monday, 13 October 2008

Welsh business not confident in Assembly Government

Since we grow deeper and deeper into despair as the weeks roll on, it seems that the Welsh Assembly Government has taken on board the ideas of a Welsh Conservative, Dylan Jones-Evans in his review of 2007, as highlighted by a renowned commentator on the Welsh economy.

Dylan Jones-Evans (29 December 2007)

Finally, we have a new Minister for Economic Development whose party has always supported the notion of creating a strong indigenous business base in Wales.

As discussed, the challenges he faces in turning round the Welsh economy are enormous but by encouraging enterprise and innovation, especially within our academic and private sectors, he could start delivering the type of change that has been sorely needed here in Wales.

In particular, I would urge him to consider calling an economic summit in early 2008 to bring new ideas to the table from the successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople we have here in Wales. At worst, it would be a wasted few hours for those attending but, at best, there could be the emergence of a whole new approach that finally turns around the fortunes of the Welsh economy.
The Welsh Assembly Government announced on the 8th October 2008 that it would be holding an All-Wales economic summit to discuss the present financial crisis and its impact on the Welsh economy. The meeting, which will take place next Thursday, will be chaired by First Minister Rhodri Morgan and attended by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones with responsibility for the economy and transport plus Secretary of State for Wales Paul Murphy.

If there was ever proof that this Assembly Government is seen as reactive rather than proactive, then this is a prime example.

First Minister:

I have convened the economic summit meeting next Thursday because I want to hear at first hand from businesses on how the current financial crisis is having an impact on them. The aim is to discuss in detail the challenges that are facing us as a result of the credit crunch and to examine how we can respond further to its impact on Wales.
Deputy First Minister:

The Assembly Government is already taking wide-ranging action. In the draft budget announced on Wednesday, more than £290m has been allocated to fund the Flexible Support for Business programme – to provide businesses in Wales with more effective and straightforward access to Assembly Government backing. We have also recently introduced a £7m package of rate relief to help smaller businesses.
We will also be announcing a series of measures over the coming weeks to help individuals and companies deal with the current economic challenges.

But we want to make use of next week’s summit to bring together the widest possible range of views and experiences and to explore in detail every single possibility that we in Wales may be able to reinforce or add to measures to help our businesses overcome the challenges they are now facing.

I happen to agree with Valleys Mam when she sees Ieyan Wyn Jones as looking "all cliches and no substance" and "... it really made me realise what an uniformed, blinkered team we have at the top of WAG. They really have to step up their game."

I couldn't have summed it up better myself, and it makes a change from pointing out the incompetence of top officials.

Moving on to the heading of this post 'Welsh businesses not confident in Assembly Government' it appears that businesses in Wales are now accusing the government of stifling the business end of the economy. The fact that reserves [rainy-day money] is now being spent on areas already 'provided for' in the coalition agenda isn't going down well in the business community. The Assembly Government only has one pot. For reserves, read, money that has been held back over time from worthy areas that are devolved in case the proverbial hits the fan.

When it comes to the economy and business, it's clear from the following that confidence in the Assembly Government is not full to the brim in Wales.

European funding is being taken by the Welsh Assembly Government and kept for itself.

The West Wales Business Initiative is calling for a full investigation into the Assembly’s use of European aid money.

On Tuesday, its representatives will present a petition backed by more than 40 companies asking the Assembly’s petitions committee to instigate an inquiry.

The Assembly Government’s Welsh European Funding Office website shows that of £127.7m allocated under the Convergence programme so far, £102.1m has gone directly to the Assembly itself.

A further £17.4m has gone to local authorities while the voluntary sector has had £5.5m. Only two private sector projects with grants totalling £2.8m have been approved – one by a subsidiary of Corus to redevelop the former steelworks site at Ebbw Vale, and another to create a centre of excellence for Welsh food in the Conwy Valley.

In a letter to businesses seeking support for the petition, West Wales Business Initiative secretary Wyn Price said little, if any of the new funds would reach “the sharp, business end of the economy.”

He said,“An example of what is happening is in Carmarthenshire, where the local authority is in control of Convergence Fund monies allocated to economic development and, in particular, the funds for the building of new factories,which are in short supply.

“The question is why the local authority has the power to determine private sector applications, while at the same time submitting its own plans to develop a new large industrial estate that it will then rent out to the private sector at so-called market rates.

“They have already limited the access to these funds by designating just one area of Carmarthenshire as a strategic priority, Cross Hands, where co-incidentally, it intends to develop the new estate.

"This effectively means that no direct benefit is derived by productive businesses. It does benefit the council which will derive future income to supplement its rapidly inflated size."

Since writing this post on the weekend, Dylan Jones-Evans has returned to blogging - if only for a day - to post his Western Mail article "The Assembly and saving the Welsh economy" in response to the current economic crisis.

Running the risk of being accused of being a Tory blogger by Nationalist bloggers - yet again [laugh] - at least Professor Dylan Jones-Evans is thinking outside the box, which is more than can be said of our Assembly Government.


Anonymous 13 October 2008 at 15:18  

Wales needs a brave FM and DFM who are ready to invest in the Welsh infrastructure - rail, roads, IT, promotion, building etc not just schoolsandhospitals.

We'll always be poor if we don't sort this out and no amount of free prescriptions will change that.

IWJ - do something don't just mouth cliches and stop implementing Labour priorities of schoolsandhospitals to the detriment of everythin else.

Do something big.

Ordovicius 13 October 2008 at 15:28  

Running the risk of being accused of being a Tory blogger by Nationalist bloggers - yet again [laugh] -

Don't tell me you're actually denying it! LOL

lost in the bay 13 October 2008 at 15:54  

Such a shame that the Rainbow Coalition didn't come into existence. Dylan could've provided major input to the devolved economic area of the WAG.

Anonymous 13 October 2008 at 16:01  

It comes as no surprise to others that this has now happened. Dylan's blog has been trawled by political types in the bay for some time in a search for ideas.

Anonymous 13 October 2008 at 17:04  

Ordo - loads of blogs, still no job.

running wales into the ground 13 October 2008 at 18:09  

Perhaps Jones-Evans and ap Gwilym should share ideas with WAG for the good of Wales. Now I bet those in charge haven't thought of that one. They'll be asking the duffers in the Economy Department to come up with and implement unworkable plans.

Dr. Christopher Wood 13 October 2008 at 18:24  

In the "Do Something Big" - actually, it would cost very little to "Do Something Big" with Welsh Intellectual Property, and it needs to be "Something Big".

Dylan Jones-Evans 13 October 2008 at 19:19  

Nice to be back!

My concern is that the £290 million allocatted to fund the Flexible Support for Business Programme will not actually deal with the main IMMEDIATE issue, namely lack of working capital for businesses as banks, without any rational reason except to reduce their own exposure, reduce overdraft limits overnight.

As anyone in business knows, you trade up to your overdraft limit to enable you to have the cash required for the business in the short term. That may be bad financial management but it is the way that business is done in the real world for many small firms.

In the current climate, that puts you in immediate danger. For example, if you are a small firm that has a turnover of around £500,000 and that you have an overdraft limit of £50,000. All of a sudden the bank reduces that limit to £25,000 without warning. That means you will have to find £25,000 immediately or you will have creditors shutting down your business. It doesn't mean you are a bad business overnight, it just means that your bank manager is redcing the risk to his or her employer.

The question is who will take the slack? Certainly, I would expect the UK Government to instruct their new banks (HBOS, Lloyds and RBS) to support small firms through this financial crisis and hopefully, Barclays and HSBC will follow suit or lose business customer. However, I would also expect the Assembly to look at how it could specifically support Welsh firms through using its bank Finance Wales.

Anyway. we shall wait and see.

The blogsmeller pursuivant 13 October 2008 at 19:59  

Ordo - you are absolutely right.

Wales needs less Tory attack blogs like this 'Pippa' nonsense.

Word has it, 'Pippa' is about to have 'her' identity revealed -'her' cover is well and truly blown apparently :-)

'Pippa' has been a very careless man indeed :-)

the truth is out there 13 October 2008 at 20:05  

Pippa is John and Pavia!!!!!!!

Anonymous 13 October 2008 at 20:12  

It's obvious that Pippa is David Taylor in a silly and pointless attempt to undermine the One Wales Government in Cardiff bay.

It's not working David. Plaid have been onto you from the start.

Come out of your hiding place DT.

Anonymous 13 October 2008 at 20:19  

That's odd because Labour think it's one of Huw's staffers.

woof woof 13 October 2008 at 20:21  

Tory attack blogs.

There's hardly any tory blogs in Wales. Are you frightened of one blog? You've got them running scared Pips ha ha

Ordovicius 13 October 2008 at 20:22  

Ordo - loads of blogs, still no job.

If anyone wants to offer a research job to somebody with progressive blindness in the latter stages of tunnel vision common to the incurable genetic condition known as Retinitis Pigmentosa, I'm all ears. In the meantime anonymong, you should see someone about that acne. ;)

Anonymous 13 October 2008 at 20:24  

You've got them running scared Pips ha ha

Scared of what exactly...somebody pretending not to be a Tory?

inside the green green glass house of home 13 October 2008 at 20:29  

I've heard a rumour that the blog is only meant to last for a year as an experiment by some Cardiff bay insider.

Miss Wagstaff 13 October 2008 at 20:36  

I logon to see if my post on Switzerland has been published and find all this.

Sanddef, I would've deleted that earlier comment that had a go at you for being unemployed, but can see that you've attacked the comment in your own way, so I'll leave it.

Various anons. I'm ME, so get over yourselves :)

Miss Wagstaff 13 October 2008 at 20:43  

Good to have you back Dylan. Perhaps you should post all your future articles on your blog - keeps the blog alive and lets us know your views at the same time (even those of us who are too tight to buy a newspaper).

Miss Wagstaff 13 October 2008 at 20:44  

"I've heard a rumour that the blog is only meant to last for a year as an experiment by some Cardiff bay insider."

In that case I only have a few posts left to publish.

Anonymous 13 October 2008 at 21:01  

Didn't someone accuse her of being Luke Holland in the last month?

inside the green green glass house of home 13 October 2008 at 22:05  

Also heard is that she'll out herself when the blog runs its course after a year before she moves on.

ieuan's jockstrap 13 October 2008 at 23:19  

Blog started in Nov 2007 so we haven't got long to wait.

to blog or not to blog 13 October 2008 at 23:21  

Most Assembly blogs are set up and staffed by staffers with the unofficial approval of their AM. If this is a tory blog, who's the master/mistress?

sian 13 October 2008 at 23:34  

Peter Black let slip that he has met you at a function in the Assembly. He found you charming but wouldn't say whether you are male or female. He simply smiled.

Anonymous 14 October 2008 at 09:53  

Richard/Pippa - it's kind of an open secret by now anyway - you've told too many people. So why not jsut out yourself?

Hannah 14 October 2008 at 12:12  

Is that the same Richard that works for Andrew Davies and wears a DJ on his Facebook photograph?

I've always thought that Paul is more handsome ;>)

Anonymous 14 October 2008 at 12:15  

Richard always talked about having or starting up a blog. Never saw him as Wagstaff.

Valleys Mam 14 October 2008 at 12:22  

well at least they have stopped saying you are me Pippa, or ws it I am you.
Funny how they use these tactics to detract from the seriousness of the post
Wales is in bother and needs all the help it can get,IWJ hasnt got it RM is already out grazing grass, who is left - Jane Davidson is on her way out, Carwyn is too laid back to notice, Jane H she is out with the fairies ,Leighton Andrews ,give us a break. Who speaks for Wales - step up to the mark

Anonymous 14 October 2008 at 12:56  

Word is the 'she's' going to out herself at the blogging debate on 21 October.

Matt Wardman 14 October 2008 at 14:21  

I'm all for blogging in other people's comment boxes. Can I (re)publish an article from last May?

This may sound like a strange idea, but there can be considerable benefit in letting part of your blog be hosted on somebody else’s site - in their comments box. You get the benefit of a possibly wider audience - and therefore lots of attention.

Chris Paul has had a “sceptical about Tories” blog since before I started, and it is hosted in Iain Dale ’s comments box. I reckon that he gets his largest readership from this “alternative” not the real one hosted at Labour of Love; it has something like 350 entries.

The unputdownable Dr Irene Lancaster FRSA has developed a whole series of pro-Israel blogs in the comments of (for example) Ruth Gledhills blog (228 entries to date) and the Spectator (42 entries so far),

There are certain limitations, such as your alternative blog posts having to have some distant relation to the subject under conversation - but that doesn’t seem to slow some people down.

If you select your host correctly, you can even develop an anonymous blog. Guido provides an “anonymous blog hosting service” in his comments box. In this case it is an “anonymous” group blog with more than 4000 entries .

It’s one approach to think about on a Bank Holiday.
Version with links here:

Matt W

Anonymous 15 October 2008 at 08:25  

How about some debate of the serious state the economy is in, in Wales.

The only people in Wales who should be unemployed in Wales are Labour Party members, I include Shrek and Donkey in this grouping.

Anonymous 15 October 2008 at 10:10  

Pippa is Miss Tory Staff

juggler 15 October 2008 at 14:21  

"I've always thought that Paul is more handsome ;>"

Yes, but Richard is the most well-endowed member of the Conservative staff!

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