With Welsh Assembly elections just round the corner, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has been outlining how his party will boost small businesses and support farmers as part of their new national Economic Plan.
The Shadow Minister says that his party’s economic priority is “to cut the Welsh deficit and to start closing the economic gap between Wales and the rest of the UK.”
“To do this, we have put together a comprehensive National Economic Plan comprising of three main aspects – raising skills levels, implementing an active industrial strategy, and creating a comprehensive plan for infrastructure investment,” said Mr ap Iorweth.
“This Plan includes a range of measures such as securing 50,000 new apprenticeships to up-skill students, creating clusters of more specialized high-tech and innovative companies to create high-skill jobs in high-tech firms, establishing a National Bank to help plug the estimated funding gap of £500m a year faced by Welsh SMEs, and doubling the Welsh R&D budget through a National Innovation Body.”
“Our Wales Development Agency will help home-grown businesses succeed and boost exports, and will attract investment from around the world, reviving the globally-recognised Welsh brand.”
Small Business Pledge
In ‘Our Pledge to Small Businesses’, which appeared on his website this week, the Shadow Minister revealed more specific details of how his party plans to boost small businesses in Wales, promising that his party will:
- Support more than 80,000 small and medium sized businesses by cutting business rates in Wales, freeing 70,000 of them from paying business rates altogether and helping town centres.
- Ensure at least 70% of Welsh public contracts are awarded to businesses in Wales, creating 40,000 extra jobs.
- Create a WDA (Welsh Development Agency) for the 21st century, which will sell Welsh products and ideasto the world.
- Undertake the biggest investment programme since devolution to improve the public transport system and road network, investing in transport across the whole of Wales rather than “tying up every available penny on an unnecessarily expensive option for a new M4.”
- Create a Welsh Development Bank to ensure adequate credit for Welsh businesses to maintain businesses, support expansion and create additional jobs.
- Press for fast broadband and reliable mobile signal for the whole of Anglesey.
A Brighter Future for Farmers
Alongside a new Agriculture manifesto, the party have also announced a set of pledges to a vital small business sector – Welsh farmers – promising that they will:
- Ensure a fair price for produce
- Maximise benefits to Wales from next CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)
- Use the most effective measures to control and eradicate bTB
- Appoint an Industry Champion to promote Welsh food and farming
- Strengthen the voice of rural communities by establishing Rural Parliament
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:
“The agricultural sector is going through a particularly difficult period at the moment. Poor red meat and milk prices are making it difficult for many farmers to make ends meet, and this is not helped by a Labour government in Cardiff Bay that is dragging its feet when it should be acting quickly.
“A Plaid Cymru government, if elected in May, will act more swiftly to implement the changes that the sector needs… and give the sector the support it needs in these difficult economic circumstances.”