Whilst a row broke out earlier this month between Labour and Plaid Cymru over which party was responsible for developing the Pro-Act scheme, no-one seems to have examined or considered the relative impact that the programme has had on different parts of Wales.
Thanks to a report written by the Assembly Members’ Research Service, the differences in ProAct funding to businesses across Wales can now be revealed.
According to WAG's own data, nearly half of the £27 million of funding went to 90 businesses in the four counties of Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthen, RCT and Swansea. Given the way that ProAct was largely promoted by WAG towards manufacturing companies (although it was not exclusively geared towards this sector) this geographical focus in counties along the M4 corridor is not unexpected.
However, with Labour and Plaid Cymru constantly describing the scheme as being a panacea for the economic issues across the whole of Wales, it is surprising to see that companies based in some counties in Wales received very little support.
For example, let's examine the local economies of the constituencies of the two top men in the Welsh Assembly Government, both of which have been claiming credit for the Pro-Act scheme. Bridgend received only 1.3 per cent of the total funding for Pro-Act whilst in Anglesey, only five companies were supported.
Similarly, businesses in the Vale of Glamorgan, where the Finance Minister of the last Welsh Assembly Government is based (and whose party suggest that she should take credit for the development of Pro-Act) has received only 0.5 per cent of the funding which has helped just 6 companies and 42 employees.
The two counties receiving the lowest amount of funding have been Ceredigion and Conwy, with only a single company supported in the former and three companies in the latter. This is despite both Plaid Cymru AMs representing both counties going out of their way to praise the scheme.
For example, Elin Jones "specifically highlighted the work during the recession including over 10,000 people saved from redundancy due to Ieuan Wyn Jones AM’s ProAct scheme" whilst Gareth Jones also noted that "with schemes such as ProAct and ReAct, and the strategic use of capital funding, the Plaid driven government is doing all in its powers to help the people of Wales to weather the current economic storm".
Therefore, whilst there seems to have been a general acceptance that ProAct was good for the Welsh economy as a whole, this data shows that is simply not the case and has been largely concentrated in a small number of businesses based in a few counties.