Wednesday, July 14, 2010


As I predicted yesterday, it seems that WAG's press office is working overtime to try and minimise any criticisms of the Economic Renewal Programme.

They have even gone so far as to write a last minute piece for today's Western Mail to try and explain how this new approach will benefit SMEs (whilst conveniently omitting the fact that they have cut support to the vast majority of small businesses in Wales).

Sorry, guys, your arguments just don't stack up and if that is the best you can do, then you need to get a new job.

For example, perhaps the Minister can explain why, in an interview in 2007, he said he was keen to increase business support to start-up companies and said " It is not just about the grant aid which is available, but giving the right advice at the beginning, in areas like the business plan, financial management and securing premises.”

Does he believe that, because of the recession, and new economic circumstances, that start-ups no longer need this business support, especially during the critical fiorst two years of their existence?

What has changed so much that he has now essentially abandoned FS4B, the main scheme for business support, cut business funding by a half to £50 million and is focusing his efforts on six sectors only? Where is the evidence for such an approach?

More relevantly, why is WAG so nervous about a debate on the economic direction for this nation?

Do they seriously think that everyone in the business community will agree with them just because they have done essentially what the CBI has suggested them to do?

It doesn't take a genius to work out that they have let down the small firm sector in Wales and if organisations like the FSB and the Chambers feel constrained in saying so, I can assure you there will be at least one person shouting from the rooftops to make sure everyone knows about this betrayal.

However, I do have one thing to thank the senior civil servants in WAG for.

People always come to me and ask how do you find something different to say every week in the Western Mail?

I must admit that it is sometimes difficult to also motivate oneself to put together 800 words together every week (without the advantage that politicians have of press office doing it for them!).

Anyway, I can now thank WAG for the next few weeks at least, as the ERP has given me the ideal material for my columns in the Western Mail and the Daily Post for the rest of the summer.

I look forward to continuing the debate and deconstructing, line by line, this excuse for an economic strategy for Wales, starting this Saturday.

Thanks a million!