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Small Business Strategy puts small firms at the heart of Welsh Government

The Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies, says he wants to lead the “most small business friendly government Wales has ever seen”; as the party launches its Small Business Strategy today in Newport.

 

Welsh Conservatives say that too much of the Welsh Government’s economic policy doesn’t take account of the interests of small businesses – despite the fact that they make up around 99% of all registered firms in Wales.

A Welsh Conservative Government in May will establish a dedicated team at the heart of Welsh Government to support the needs of small Welsh firms.

Reporting annually to the National Assembly’s Enterprise & Business Committee, the ‘small business hub’ would perform a small business ‘proofing’ role – assessing all Welsh Government economic policies for their impact on small businesses.

The move would put the voice of small businesses “at the very heart of economic development in Wales.”

The strategy contains a number of other small-business friendly initiatives, and a Welsh Conservative Government would:

  • Provide business rate relief for small businesses.

 

  • Create a level playing field on business rates by ‘splitting the multiplier’ – allowing for differentiation between small and large firms.

 

  • Ensure universal broadband & mobile coverage across rural Wales by 2019.

 

  • Improve access to finance for small businesses.

 

  • Introduce ‘employee incentive grants’ to boost job opportunities for all ages.

 

Help small Welsh firms to access public sector procurement.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Davies said:

“I want to lead the most small business friendly government that Wales has ever seen.

“It is clear that the Welsh Labour Government has failed to take the measures necessary to empower local businesses and to deliver a more prosperous economy, and our strategy would place small businesses at the very heart of economic development in Wales.

“Wales is a nation of shopkeepers, and those small firms are the lifeblood of the Welsh economy; which is why they need support to develop and grow.

“A small business hub would give small firms a powerful voice in policy development, with a dedicated team established with the sole purpose of representing their interests.

“We would also extend business rate relief, removing at a stroke a key obstacle to job creation and prosperity.

“Business rate reform would help small businesses to stay afloat, expand and create new jobs, ultimately bringing life back to our increasingly deserted high streets.”

Shadow Economy Minister, William Graham, said:

“The economic picture in Wales remains disappointing, despite the best efforts of the UK Government.

“Our high streets endure the highest vacancy rates anywhere in the UK and here in Newport, more than a quarter of premises currently lie vacant. It’s just not good enough, and there is so much more that a Welsh Government can do to turn things around.

“We have a comprehensive strategy to boost small businesses in Wales. We want to help those firms to take on new staff and to access public sector procurement opportunities; we want a fair system of business rates which give a level playing to smaller companies; and we want to improve access to finance for small firms.

“Ultimately, this is further evidence that the election is a choice between changing to secure our economic security – or sticking with the same old ideas which just aren’t working.”

Commenting on Welsh Conservative plans to deliver universal mobile and broadband coverage across Wales by 2019, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, Russell George, said:

“Small rural firms tell me that securing better connectivity is key to economic growth, especially in rural areas where provision is often so poor.

“We would ensure universal broadband and mobile service across rural Wales by 2019.

“To help achieve this, we would reform the planning system for telecom infrastructure to make is easier to upgrade existing sites and develop new ones.”