Tuesday, 17 August 2010

2 Paper Bags

Those familiar with these articles and followers of Twitter (Bob_Shepherd and other accounts) will be aware that WAG has come in for criticism from me before for trying to run the business world with bureaucrats in South Wales. The present situation is that we have "ERP". That is the Economic Renewal Programme which was published with a fanfare in early July. 
If we were starting today you could say there is some sense in the proposals and some thought obviously went into it. That is not my point. The guillotine that came down on the Single Investment Fund (SIF) grants left everyone in the dark. I have clients who do not know whether their support applications made the cut, so to speak. No one seemed to know what departments would survive and what support. And by 'no one' I mean the Business Support staff themselves who bless them, are a mixed bunch in many ways. 
We are over a month later and still they don't know, it would appear. The latest I have heard is that we might have some decisions on what is coming next and how the new forms of support will operate, some time in the New Year! 
Meanwhile, there are propositions for sizeable businesses who were getting their plans together for sensible and worthwhile investments who have put everything on hold or scrapped the plans altogether. Immediately the consultant helping them has lost his job and in some cases had many hours work done with no where to go. Next down the line the business support staff have no new business coming in and must be twiddling their thumbs. Next comes the supporting businesses for new ventures, who have lost a client. They include the property people, the accountants, the Bank staff, the recruiting agencies, the cleaners, painters, office equipment people and so on. You get the idea. For every non starting business proposition there are waves of knock on effects to take into account. 
In short, my complaint immediately is that the WAG has failed to manage their self assumed role in the economy again. Much of what they were doing was misguided on some level anyway but to pull the plug on it overnight is not constructive. On a higher plane they are doing the reputation of Wales no favours either. We already have the highest rate of dependency on Government funding for GDP in the UK. Whether or not there should be grants and active support is an argument, for which the prospective 'repayable grants' is not a credible substitute and whatever should have been done about the 1800 or so support staff employed by the WAG for business support for reasons that are commercially incoherent, the limbo we have now is ridiculous. 
Some of my colleagues have put thoughts into email about the loss of potential business that is being caused and I would encourage anyone that has relevant experience to relate to do the same. Email the minister at ieuan.wynjones@wales.gov.uk with your opinions. 
If enough people do that he might notice that companies want confidence in their working environment and are going away from Wales to where they can organise 2 paper bags. 
Bob Shepherd Associates deals with Small Business SMEs' Business Direction Development and Business Financial development. That included Grants as well as Banks and Investors until recently. 

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