Sunday, 18 July 2010

What IWJ's Economic Renewal Programme means for Anglesey (Updated)

Following the recent closures of a large chunk of Anglesey's large private sector employers (Anglesey Aluminium, Eaton Electric, Peboc, Menai Electrical, Octel, etc.), it has become clearer than ever that Anglesey's economic fortunes rest with its small businesses. Indeed this point was explicitly addressed in our People's Manifesto for Ynys Môn:
"the Council needs to recognise that the Island’s economic future rests on promoting and supporting multitudes of small businesses - not just one or two large employers. Accordingly the Council must: (a) avoid supporting developments which merely contribute to the cannibalisation of sales from existing small businesses and shops; (b) prioritise reducing the bureaucracy and costs involved in running small businesses on the Island; (c) provide meaningful and high-quality support to encourage both the growth of existing small businesses and the establishment of new ventures."

It is therefore disappointing in the extreme that Ieuan Wyn Jones - Anglesey's AM and Deputy First Minister - has recently announced changes to the way WAG supports the Welsh economy which will in effect do exactly the opposite, i.e. support a few large employers in Wales at the expense of the multitudes of small businesses. As Dylan Jones-Evans notes in his Daily Post column, research clearly shows that companies of less than five years old (which naturally tend to be SMEs) create the vast majority of new jobs, therefore it is clear that a country such as Wales which suffers from an under-developed private sector should strategically focus on providing support to its small businesses as a way of growing the number of private sector jobs.

Unfortunately the WAG's new Economic Renewal Programme (ERP) will shift half of the resources in the £100m Single Investment Fund (i.e. the WAG's central funding 'pot' for business support) to infrastructure projects (such as delivering 'next generation' broadband throughout Wales - not likely to be provided by SMEs), thus halving the amount of repayable loan capital actually available to small businesses. Furthermore, the ERP then proposes to focus the remaining funds on supporting just six 'key sectors':

  • Creative industries
  • Information Communication Technologies
  • Energy and Environment
  • Advanced material and manufacturing
  • Life Sciences
  • Financial and Professional services

Firstly, these sectors are mostly dominated by large companies. Secondly, the WAG press release breathlessly describes them as sectors where "Wales has clear advantages for growth". Really? They sound pretty much like those fields which every other government in the World is keen on growing - what 'clear advantages' does Wales realistically have in any of them? Of course I'm not saying that these businesses shouldn't be supported, just not at the expense of cutting off ALL support to other fast growing small businesses which just happen to be in not quite so fashionable sectors.

Anglesey happens to have a large proportion of small businesses in the sectors of Agriculture (Hooton's, Halen Môn, Morgan Evans, etc) and Tourism (the Sea Zoo, various holiday cottages, etc) - none of these businesses, or ones like them, will now be eligible to receive WAG support because of IWJ's changes. Small Businesses in these and other non-supported sectors are the backbone of the Anglesey economy and Anglesey's AM has just abandoned them. 

UPDATE: Well known local businessman Glyn Pritchard-Jones leaves a comment below giving an insiders' account of Ieuan Wyn Jones's complete lack of engagement with his own constituency - even when the possibility of 250 new jobs for the Island is served up on a plate:
"Last September I brought a company up from London to Anglesey and we met with IWJ / Brynle Williams (because i wanted to keep IWJ on his toes!) and the local posse. Suffice to say the company is cutting edge / clean technology. The opportunity would be to manufacture in Holyhead and jobs created anticipated as 250 plus. The proposal is currently being love-bombed from different countries and IWJ/WAG/DEIN have been unable to assist. When I am able to, I will provide details of the company when my NDA is released however its' embarrasing that after all the effort made; locally its all talk and no action because WAG is financially embarrassed and somewhat clueless. Why is IWJ simply unable to deliver the goods??"
Considering the recent large scale job losses on the Island I would have hoped that our AM would have been chomping at the bit to secure a golden opportunity like this for his constituency. Glyn rightly asks "why is IWJ simply unable to deliver the goods"? My guess is because Ieuan Wyn currently has four jobs (Deputy First Minister, Minister for Economy and Transport, Leader of Plaid Cymru, and Anglesey AM) - which is at least three jobs more than he is capable of. As officially the poorest sub-region in the UK, Ynys Môn can no longer afford the luxury of an AM who's first priority is not looking after his own constituency.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

The most effective way of helping the Welsh economy is to boost the talent and skills of its future workforce.

Creative skills and the ability to think on one's feet is the way to differentiate yourself from overseas competition.

Do we really want more announcements that WAG will invest x million from the Single investment fund in another concrete industrial estate project?

Seems like it's a good economy to be in if you're a bricky, a cement firm or timber supplier. But is this sustainable in the future?

Let businesses figure out what is profitable or not. Too much "strategic" planning is a no no.

All that does is end up crowding out the real wealth creators, with more "partnerships" and "schemes" with a long trail of secretariat posts attached, none of which will power Wales ahead in a really competitive world.

Danger is the latest WAG ideas from IWJ will result in further "crowding out" of the real growth businesses.

The Great Councillini said...

Not only is this a massively retrograde step for places like Anglesey, but will of course again favour south Wales, big headlines, and big kudos for the Assembly. No doubt the 'Supported by the WAG' posters are already in print.

Thanks a lot, Ieuan. Do you use satnav to get back to Anglesey these days? 'At the poor begging people on the bridge corner, turn a blind eye to the left.'

Anonymous said...

We have noticed for a while that our AM in Cardiff Bay has become more and more preoccupied with the macro-Wales picture, not to forget his own self-promotion (3 jobs ?)... at the expense of the woeful plight of his constituency back in Ynys Mon....this latest news just proves it.
Ieuan, don`t be too big for your boots, we well remember your beginnings.....your political end is in sight !

Anonymous said...

Heartbeaking news, I always believed that we would be treated a bit more passionately, the reality is a tomb, a gravestone under which is buried the future of Anglesey.

Financial benefits being removed when we are all trying to survive, is this some sort of mad starvation plan he is working on?

Who does he represent? the people who are struggling, the businesses who are suffering or is he just looking after his own interests? I know my anser, it's all him, isn't it, he wants, he takes, he gets, and what do we get..nothing!

Huw Terry

Anonymous said...

Please read the comment submitted to Valleys Mam

http://merchmerthyr.blogspot.com/2010/07/this-insider-view-of-whats-hapening-in.html

This is becoming a bigger mess with every day that passes.

Glyn Pritchard-Jones said...

Last September I brought a company up from London to Anglesey and we met with IWJ / Brynle Williams (because i wanted to keep IWJ on his toes!) and the local posse. Suffice to say the company is cutting edge / clean technology. The opportunity would be to manufacture in Holyhead and jobs created anticipated as 250 plus. The proposal is currently being love-bombed from different countries and IWJ/WAG/DEIN have been unable to assist. When I am able to, I will provide details of the company when my NDA is released however its' embarrasing that after all the effort made; locally its all talk and no action because WAG is financially embarrassed and somewhat clueless. Why is IWJ simply unable to deliver the goods??

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Thanks for that insight, Glyn - so telling is your comment that I've added it to the main post. By all means do let us know more info when the NDA is over. Diolch.

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

The line that was supposed to be the money shot, as such, for WAG and IWJ was that there would be "no more grants for big business". That was going to be the selling point for the entire strategy. However, as we now know, they had also decided to cut financial support for all SMEs apart from those in six key sectors.

The fact that they have omitted food and drink, one of our few export driven sectors and a major industry in rural Wales, shows the complete lack of thinking behind the strategy.

The people of Anglesey are too bothered what jobs are brought to the island, as long as employment is created. Focusing on six key sectors in growth areas such as Cardiff could work but why make it exclusive - why provide repayable loans only for these sectors?

That is why this "one size fits all" simply doesn't work and to suggest otherwise ad nauseam, as Plaid politicians in particular have done over the last week, simply doesn't wash. More importantly, it doesn't benefit the local economies of our poorer regions, such as Anglesey.

Anonymous said...

It is a fact that IWJ clings to power, not by his own political and commercial talents, weak as they are, but by the well-oiled Plaid machine of inbred parochial nationalists with limited or no commercial vision....this is not good for the future of Anglesey.
We need a commercially-minded entrepreneurial and competitive leader down in Cardiff to represent "all" on Anglesey, particularly business-people and those who can bring in investment and jobs.
Time soon to make way Ieuan !!

Anonymous said...

As an Anglesey Exporter, it is believed the WAG by an IWJ proposal HAVE withdrawn funding once used to assist exporters. Probably in the eyes of the elected it does not involve many voters and therefore has a low importance.

Or could it be as another correspondent mentioned about Planning, Big Firms Big Bucks and of course one might ask 'where do the bucks stop'

It is often said that there are more people employed by small firms than there are people employed by large firms, so if the small firms are allowed to drip drip drip out of existance, the que will grow at the benefits office.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Druid of Anglesey said...

I apologise but I have deleted 2 comments. From now on comments not related to specific threads will be deleted as they are not conducive to promoting discussion. There are other threads more suitable for your comments.

Anonymous said...

re Glyn Prichard Jones cooment: well Glyn, hasnt business comunity worked out-after all this time - this guy couldnt even deliver a pint in a pub.

he dont get business, doesnt have a clue what to do, has no ideas, no clout.

even so-called private airline Ieuan Air was got by someone elses effort.

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon Druid.

You have me confused.
At 1.52 anon removed material calling them self the system administrator.

At 11.01 I asked if it wasyou who removed the post.

At 11.03 you advised that it was not you.

Who else has caontrol of your pages?


Anglesey Islander

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anglesey Insider - sorry I misunderstood you, I deleted 10:52.

Anonymous said...

Ok so who's going to vote for him in the assembley elections? Hands Up!

Over here said...

"Ok so who's going to vote for him in the assembly elections? Hands Up!"

It's a bit like racing, you cant decide until you know who the runners and racers are, and what the going is like.

And is the AM seat going the same way as MP's seat with sitting member hard to beat. What are the odds on that I wonder.

Or will Ieaun be pipped to the post, as said on C4 ...you decide...

Anonymous said...

Who does he represent? Himself or us? This is the question, and it's unfair for him to represent us, when he fails us. And what do I mean by failure? look around you!

Huw Terry
draenan yn ochor y druid!