Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Blow the whistle and they don't come running

The Western Mail's latest leaky story concerns CLAIMS made by an Assembly Government civil servant raise serious concerns about the running of the Department responsible for the Welsh economy, according to the Conservatives.

In a letter to the Western Mail, the whistle-blower lists a series of alleged shortcomings, claiming they illustrate how the Department for Economy and Transport is letting Wales down, and which include:

  • Recent Ministerial refusal to meaningfully engage with the UK Government on stimulating bank lending to Wales’s businesses in favour of WAG lending of public money direct to business;

  • hundreds of millions of pounds of European aid being diverted from the private sector into the continuation of longstanding, re-branded public sector schemes with poor track records;

  • the much-trumpeted Single Investment Fund and WAG’s SME (small and medium enterprises) relationship manager support is only reaching a minuscule number of Welsh businesses;

  • millions of pounds of funding intended for SMEs not being used and handed back;

  • an expensive IT project to develop a customer relationship management system not delivering;

  • major problems with the public transport concessionary fares scheme;

  • ministers’ decision to reject connecting with the highly praised Business Link and Direct Gov websites, helping millions of individuals and businesses elsewhere in the UK, on the grounds that they are “too English” and would make the millions of pounds invested in WAG’s site look embarrassing;

  • expensive staff events continuing at some of Wales’ best hotels regardless of the recession; and
  • the department’s staff having the least faith in senior management, according to staff survey results.

Shadow Minister for the Economy David Melding said:

Businesses and workers across Wales are looking for leadership and support as the recession tightens its grip. They need to have confidence that after five economic summits and countless policy announcements the Assembly Government is delivering on its promises.

These claims, however, suggest the Assembly Government is failing to match words with delivery. They also highlight poor morale among staff at the heart of the Assembly Government and underline the concerns we have raised about ministers’ failure to implement a proper package to help businesses survive the recession. They also raise questions about the performance of [Plaid Cymru leader] Ieuan Wyn Jones as the Minister responsible.

The Assembly Government needs to satisfy the public it is doing all it can to help businesses and workers overcome the growing economic difficulties – not just in terms of words, but also by providing tangible evidence of delivery on the ground.

An Assembly Government spokesman would not respond on a point-by-point basis to the allegations, but said:

This is merely a list of unsubstantiated and spurious claims [that we wouldn't like to talk about] from an anonymous individual [coward] claiming to work for the Department for Economy and Transport [contradiction in terms]. If a member of the Department has any legitimate concerns [and are not bothered about advancement] then they are encouraged to raise them through the proper channels. *

* Correct course of action: Express concern to senior manager - senior manager rejects your concern and explains that you don't have sufficient experience in such matters - senior manager reports to colleagues - discussion takes place behind closed doors while alarm bells are silenced, hoping that no one else will stir up a fuss - problem solved.


Anonymous 29 April 2009 at 18:42  

This has prompted a witch hunt by the Permanent Secretary of WAG to the point where managers have been asked for names of anyone who has been negative about initiatives within their teams.

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