Saturday, 19 February 2011

Ynys Môn: the 1% Island

Llandudno conference reading matter
As the Welsh Labour Party conference kicks off in Llandudno today I prepared a little gift for delegates in the shape of the front page story of today's Daily Post.

A Freedom of Information request I made reveals that WAG business support funding has been overwhelmingly funnelled to South Wales firms at the expense of those in the North. Out of a total of £48m in business grants offered since last July (when Ieuan Wyn Jones' flagship Economic Renewal Programme was introduced) just £7m has been received by North Wales firms. Furthermore Ynys Môn -- the poorest place in the whole United Kingdom and struggling with over 2,000 job losses  -- has received just 1% of that total.

This is how the figures break down regionally when we correct for relative populations:

Total business grants per region per head of population

Whereas North- and Mid-Wales has received on average around £10 per person, South Wales has received much more - in the case of South West Wales two and a half times more. Here is how it breaks down by each local authority:

Total business grants received by each local authority per head of population
Click to enlarge.

Anglesey received just £7.05 per head -- less than half the average of £16 per head across Wales. Indeed had Ynys Môn received just the average amount of funding, we should have received another £630,000 pounds over this period -- money businesses on this Island desperately need. And I'm sure our friends at Plaid Wrecsam will have something to say about their home town having only received WAG support equivalent to 68p per head, compared to £70 per head in Newport, South Wales.

Ieuan Wyn Jones is the WAG Minister for the Economy -- the man with his hands on the levers -- why isn't he ensuring that his own constituency is getting a fair share of this vital WAG business support money? As for the Welsh Labour party: they should amend their conference slogan from "Standing up for Wales" to "Standing up for (South) Wales".

You can see the actual FoI request replies here and here, and the spend table released as part of the second FoI request is below.
FoI Response


Anonymous said...

Come now Druid, you don't expect IWJ to lay himself open to suggestions of a conflict of interesst.

Surely he would never do anything as shallow as obtain funding assistance for his constituency, let alone any of his Plaid supporters?

kp said...

Sorry, but this is actually rather meaningless.

We have less businesses up here in North Wales. We have more farmers. These farmers get paid a tremendous amount in subsidy.

If the question you are really asking is 'why do we have so few businesses in North Wales' I offer the following for consideration:

1. We are an unattractive place to invest in, no-one seems to want to come here and invest.

Remedy: make ourselves a more attractive place for investment, find out the issues and correct them.

2. We don't have enough local home grown entrepreneurs.

Remedy: Improve our education system and encourage our youngsters that we are not so different to the rest of the world.

3. Our taxes are too high.

Remedy: Reduce tax at every opportunity, including council tax.

etc., etc. etc..

the outsider said...

kp - Anglesey is, in my opinion, a very attractive place to invest and do business. That's why I have done business on the island in the past and am planning to do more. The quality of life the island offers is also attractive. But it needs more entrepreneur's so that the local economy can become less reliant on a few big industries, which if they close down has a devestating effect locally.
In this regard it would be good to see more financial and business training for young people on the island, ie. teenagers. It's fine to go to Uni. but not essential for those young people wanting to start up their own business.

Druid - useful FOI info at least we know how effective WAG has been!

Anonymous said...

Haven't we always known that we get the left overs, the crumbs off the grand groaning table of economic madness called the Welsh Assembly.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the social experiment created by Carwyn Jones, spoon fed by Brian Gibbons has failed, big time. At the end of the day, they are NOT suffering down in Labour led and fed South Wales, we however, have Plaid Cymru who have let us bleed dry. Thank you Carwyn Jones, your inconsistent style of leadership has failed US all.

We now have a two tier state in WALES, Labour South Wales awash with money, the poor bumpkins up North, awash with washers and left overs.

Aren't you ashamed Druid, inside, doesn't it make you upset when you see the figures in black and white.

Anonymous said...

You get my vote Paul, and let's all vote for this man, after reading the Labour and Plaid carve up of Wales, we need a massive change of direction in Wales.

Carwyn and Ieuan Wyn Jones are a pair of clowns, they have failed us all.

The Real Insider. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Has Photon blog been removed as well, as Bowles and McGregor?

The Real Insider. said...

Daily Post Today page 7.

"Council rapped for data blunder".

"A major security breach that saw hundreds of benefit claimants on Anglesey sent to the wrong people has seen the council rapped by the information Commission".

"The Information Commission's office (ICO) said the council had breached the data Protection Act".

"The ICO's investigation found that the council had no written contract in place with the service provider to explain how personal data should have been handled in line with the council's existing policies".

This all happened on David Bowles's watch. So who's been sacked?


Anonymous said...

Wrt the Information Commissioner thing: Friday's ICO press release on which the article is based can be found at [1] and the Daily Post article at [2]. I wasn't quickly able to find a link to "Crisis council coalition meets unions" mentioned above; suggestions welcome so those of us who don't have access to the Daily Post on paper can see these things first hand and in context.

Wrt Photon bog:
It does seem to be up and down like (whatever) recently.

Allegedly this is just technical incompetence at the hosting outfit (the same hosting outfit as used by the Druid, which also sometimes has a few issues, possibly including losing two posts of mine in the last few days, but imo not so many issues yet as the Photon has recently seen).

There is a not fully up to date copy of the Photon's front page in the GoogleCache at [3].

If I were the Photon I'd be seriously considering whether I need my bog mirrored elsewhere, in order to maintain availability to readers at times of crisis (such as we have approaching). Sadly I have no idea how practical such an idea might be, but someone out there will have tried it before.

If I were a reader who understood how to get a local mirror of a website I'd be wanting to do that too (obviously bearing in mind that copyright restrictions etc may apply).




Anonymous said...

"We have less businesses up here in North Wales. We have more farmers. These farmers get paid a tremendous amount in subsidy."


The FoI stuff is interesting, but is it significant? Are any applications rejected ? If everything that is submitted is approved in full, the question is why are so few applications submitted from Anglesey. And there may be many and varied and quite possibly valid reasons for that - though obviously more money coming to Anglesey would be better.

Perhaps "the outsider" (or another contributor?) has used this process and can comment on IoACC's effectiveness in this area?

the outsider said...

Anon @20.03.

Yes, IoACC has made me aware of the existance of business support and business loans. I, personally, do not wish to take a loan of any kind just now. I think its best in this climate if you can tailor your business plan to manage without one. Small SME's very often start with no loans and for some enterprises that works best. However business support is another matter and there are two areas that IoACC needs to improve:-
firstly getting more and better local data of relevance to the tourism industry on the island. Info at present is not collected for the island, but as part of the wider north wales area, at least that is all I have been able to find. and 2. as I have said many times before on this blog, broadband speeds from the local telephone exchanges need to be improved for businesses of all kinds in this day and age. Speeds of 0.5Mb to 2Mb are just naff!

Anonymous said...

Speeds of 0.5Mb to 2Mb are just naff!

This depends on where you are on the island. Around Holyhead - if you are with the right ISP (Sky) - you can get landline speeds of up to 24MB now.

In addition, Parc Cybi (that wasteland on the edge of town that no sod in their right mind is interested in) has fibre optic laid at great expense from a nodal point in Manchester.

Anonymous said...

Anglesey Economic Development Unit, Business Eye and Mentor Mon should hang their heads in shame.

The Grant's are wrapped in a straight-jacket of red tape and despite Millions being spent on administering and delivering Grant's they are simply not applied for let alone delivered.

I wonder why?


Anonymous said...

Anon 20:03 again, with another broadband diversion.

"broadband speeds ... need to be improved for businesses of all kinds in this day and age. Speeds of 0.5Mb to 2Mb are just naff!"

Quite so. Speeds are dependent on the length of cable between punter and BT's (or Sky's, or whoever) broadband equipment - longer = slower. The equipment has traditionally been in the exchange, which makes Anglesey difficult to serve well.

Part of BT is currently deploying a technology properly known as VDSL where the equipment is in the green streetside cabinets rather than in the exchanges, meaning that the cable lengths are usually shorter. Speeds of 40Mbit or so are practical, and >15Mbit is routine - IF you are close enough.

There are a lot of these cabinets, they can't all be done first (even if it was cost effective).

Part of BT recently ran a campaign called "The Race To Infinity"; you can read about it elsewhere. If your locality won the race (which involved "campaigning" to get support for broadband at silly speeds), you got to be in the first few rural exchanges to get VDSL. Was anyone campaigning on Anglesey?

Other smaller operators are doing similar (sometimes better) things but they tend to get a lot less publicity than BT, not least because unlike BT they aren't everywhere. Examples would include Rutland Telecom in Erbistock near Wrexham (not near Rutland!).

The companies involved in the alleged WiMax wireless broadband trial around Newborough (i3 group, H2O Networks) have undergone "strategic reorganisation"; I'm not holding my breath.

Whatever happened to IoACC's visionary "Anglesey Connected" scheme? Back in 2003 this was a proposal to provide high speed broadband to Council premises (and eventually others?) by setting up their own high speed wireless network across the island, backed by £1M+ of EU funding?

The fibre at Parc Cybi is independent of BT and runs pretty much all the way along the A55, but you can't easily connect to it without expensive kit being installed unless you are in one of the business parks already served. The websites of the comapnies involved (Fibrespeed, Fibrewales) have no "news" more recent than 2009!

the outsider said...

Anon @10.40
Thanks for the background. The internet is THE infrastructure of the 21st Century, comparable to the trade shipping routes of Elizabethian England; the railroads of the industrial revolution and the highways and airports of the 20th Century. Trade, communication, ideas and innovation in the modern world need and use it. It is essential in remote and urban environments. Anglesey will not not prosper without it, and needs to ensure it is not left behind.

Anonymous said...

Sky's own BB is available in all towns on the island I believe so they can get faster speeds, however not much good to go if you are outside these zones and a great distance from the exchange, we also have Talk Talk (less said about that the better)
Re IWJ and not showing favouritism to his own constituency, in effect then we have nobody representing us in the WAG so they may as well do away with it as far as we are concerned and save some money

Anonymous said...

"3. Our taxes are too high.

Remedy: Reduce tax at every opportunity, including council tax."


how much of IoACC's revenue do you think comes from Council Tax ?

I presume you know Council Tax doesn't apply to businesses, they have a slightly different setup, the Uniform Business Rates scheme, which is set on a national (ie Welsh) not local (ie Anglesey) basis.

Here's a hint: in the 2009-2010 accounts, IoACC's income was just short of £200M. Only £30M of that came from Council Tax. A roughly similar amount came from rents and for payments for goods and services. So that leaves (say) somewhat over £200M+ ie over two thirds funded by central government.

It doesn't leave IoACC a great deal of room for flexibility. When the central grant is cut by 2%, in order to maintain constant revenue there has to be a 4% increase in Council Tax.

If businesses want support from the Council, the money has to come from somewhere, and mostly it's not Council Tax.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but why do you assume there has to be constant revenue?

Revenues to local government must fall year by year. Each individual county/area must compete to persuade businesses to come and set up.

It is by using competition, competition for being the cheapest/friendliest/best schooled/best everything place to live and work that we will find success.

And the more work we have the more people will be employed and the more services they can afford to pay for without any state or council intervention.

The Thatcher way, the Major way, The Blair way, the Cameron way. But, agreed, it wasn't Brown's way ... and look where he led us!

Anonymous said...

"why do you assume there has to be constant revenue?"

I don't assume that, it was just a simple way of illustrating the numbers.

"Each individual county/area must compete to persuade businesses to come and set up."


"Revenues to local government must fall year by year."

Says who, other than the current Tory-led cabinet of millionaires and tax-dodgers (29 cabinet members, 23 millionaires last I checked)? Representative democracy my hat.

I'm not quite sure your statement is compatible with the main thrust of this article ("Anglesey deserves more state support"), or with the "gross value added" article(s) recently published elsewhere.

In general, the parts of Wales where there is and has been more state support are the parts of Wales with the better economies - though obviously that doesn't match the message big business and their puppets in Conservative Central Office want you to hear (and the Druid to espouse).

"It is by using competition, competition for being the cheapest/friendliest/best schooled/best everything place to live and work that we will find success."

Right. It works so well with (e.g.) banks, trains, broadband, electric+gas, hospitals, (to name but a few), doesn't it. And with governments too (like the failed Irish government) competing to see who can offer the lowest tax regimes.

Competition has a place but unregulated competition isn't automatically good for most of us.

Does it never strike readers as odd that the banksters want to make themselves "more competitive" by offering even more massive reward packages while simultaneously facilitating their customers to be "more competitive" by making sure they pay their workforces the minimum possible (if necessary by moving the work abroad)?

Does it never strike readers as odd that the advocates of "competition" never seem to care when ever more mergers and acquisitions lead various companies closer and closer to their ultimate goal, a market monopoly (or if they can't have that, a cartel)?

Did Brown cause the global financial crisis which honest working/retired folk are now paying for with unprecedented and uncalled-for cuts in all aspects of the welfare state? I happily acknowledge Brown's slavish following of the demands of the "masters of the Universe" did sod all to prevent the crisis in the UK, but the rot started to set in long before, when Thatcher's "Big Bang" deregulation (and its US equivalent) allowed retail financial institutions to compete (that word again) on the big boys playing field where the casino banksters were. If the financial system really was "competitive" we'd have let the bankrupt banks STAY bankrupt, like Denmark is doing at the moment (again). If the state must intervene, it should protect the retail investors, not the banking insiders who caused the problems in the first instance.

Go back to Adam Smith and read it again PROPERLY, not just the Daily Mail/Telegraph subset.

Bit of national politics there, it does affect Anglesey after all.

kp said...

Anon 22:04

I'm grateful you took the time to reply and I can accept many of your statements.

Let's continue tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Anon 20:03

Anglesey Connected is running! That's what schools and council buildings use for internet! They have done so since about 2005, if not earlier!

The large mast in Penmynydd is for that particular purpose!

Prometheuswrites said...

As someone who has more often than not voted for Labour (pre 2000) I was intrigued to see that Labour have announced their new candidate for Anglesey in the WAG elections.

I'm assuming from the web-site ( that they are after the youth vote, given the irritating 'roll-over' headlines, (for those with an attention span of less than five seconds) and Mr Locks colourful dress sense.

Sadly one feels that Anglesey youth is even more disenfranchised than young people elsewhere in the UK - certainly going by the alcohol and drugs statistics for young people reported by Ysbyty Gwynedd.

Nonetheless, congratulations to him for declaring his intentions and may the best man win.

the outsider said...

Promo - "and may the best man win" - shame!

the outsider said...

I say may the best person and manifesto win.

Anonymous said...

"I say may the best person and manifesto win."

With the greatest possible respect, one only has to look at current Westminster goings on vs pre-election commitments to realise that manifestos are worth very little. That's not the way it should be, but it's the way it is, and has been for a while, whichever of the Big Politics parties you pick.

Prometheusquotes said...

Outsider: You got me bang to rights - I should have included the quotation marks and a reference, viz:

"and may the best man win" - Chariots of Fire 1981.

Anonymous said...

Anglesey has failed to capture Grant Funding and the question is why?

We have Mentor Mon, Business Eye and Anglesey Economic Development Unit and I reckon at least £50 million has been spent on new offices and wages since 1998.

In short, more money has been spent delivering Grants than the Grant's themselves.