Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The article from Saturday seems to have generated a number of emails from the heads of business organisations across Wales.

One alerted me to an article on Friday in the Western Mail on Friday and the comments made by the WAG spokesman, namely 

"The focus on six sectors who will get direct support is one part of the strategy and was developed after extensive consultation with business."

Well, according to this individual, this is "blatantly untrue" and he refers to page 37 of the ERP document where it says

"In 2008, we adopted the recommendation of the Economy and Transport Ministerial Advisory Group that we should align our activities to key sectors of the Welsh economy in order to improve the global competitiveness of Wales". The rest of the section on sectors describes how WAG adopted these recommendations.

According to the note I was sent, it was alleged that

"there was no consultation with businesses at all, and certainly no consultation with my members - think about it, how could you consult with businesses and ask them whether they believe they should get business support or not? What do you think they're going to say? "No, I'm a retailer so believe I shouldn't get anything, it should go to advanced manufacturers instead." Absolutely ridiculous."

This seems to be backed up by the extensive notes I have received on the consultation process. I certainly found little evidence of any demand from the businesses to reduce business support to six sectors.

In addition, the head of another representative group wrote to me to say that his body

"responded with a full and robust view of the economy and  covered many (as we see them) key points about the future direction of both the economy and how it should be supported - we even proposed some novel ways in which to measure performance!  So it was with some excitement that I received the initial 'ERP action plan'…none of the points raised by my membership was to be seen…which leads my board to only assume that dictionaries used within the DET contain an interesting definition of 'consultation'!"

As there are no questions to the Minister for Economy and Transport before the Assembly goes into recess, I can only hope that some of the Assembly Members will raise these issues directly with him in the New Year and that the mainstream press, rather than being its usual acquiescent self, may actually do some detailed research into how the ERP has little support in the business community outside the large companies.

As one commentator noted over the weekend, one only hopes that the Minister has not misled the Assembly over claims that the ERP has been developed in response to the needs of the Welsh business community.