Thursday, November 1

A Whinging in the Valleys

Welsh small businesses are yet again to loose out on a £1 billion of so called ''European Money'' (allocated by our true government in Brussels) to provide, so we are told, a shot in the arm to small businesses.

Although the aim of the so- called " EU Convergence Funding", which West Wales and the Valleys qualify for due to their low GDP, is to help small and medium-sized businesses to grow, there is serious whining in the valleys that once again the cash will be allocated to just every project other than those that could actually create real long term jobs.
The Brussels approved 'Programme Monitoring Committee' (PMC) in Wales has 24 members, 10 appointed ''economic experts'' and 14 reserved for Welsh organisations only one of the 14 slots has gone to any one with business experience. Though Ann Beynon, a corporate Director for BT in Wales is not a person with with small experience.

The whole distribution programme risks repeating mistakes made in spending during the last seven-year round of EU cash handouts (then known as Objective One). Although Brussels declared itself happy with the way the Assembly Government had run that scheme, there was widespread criticism that it had been a missed opportunity, because the true engine room of economic growth small and medium sized businesses were excluded from support from the fund.
Janet Jones, the voice of of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Wales, said in the Western Mail this week: "If the aim of the programme is to transform the Welsh economy, don't you think it would have been a good idea to involve more businesses. It's a travesty that out of all of 14 places available on the Convergence Funding PMC which were allocated to organisations, only one place was given to the private sector. There is also no dedicated small business representation on the PMC, despite the stated aim of the whole programme being 'to help progress the region's transformation into a sustainable and competitive economy by investing in the knowledge economy and helping new and existing businesses to grow', which is taken from the Wales European Funding Office's own website.''

John Wright the FSB National Chairman made similar comments which attracted a headline in the Welsh press during September about ''European money'' in Wales being in danger of failing to reach the small Businesses who are best placed to stimulate the local economy.

Well both the FSB 'chairs' (as they like to be referred to) are undoubtedly quite right to join in the criticisms. However, making a lot of noise about the issue is all that regrettably can be done. Meanwhile Welsh entrepreneurs will for the 8th year in succession fail to receive funding which would transform the economic life of Wales if it were properly allocated. No wonder there is much so whining in the Welsh Valleys

The actual long term remedy is of course simple. It is to stop paying ever increasing billions of pounds of British tax payers money over to ''Europe'' and await patiently for some of its conditional return from Eurocrats to whom we are supposed to be very grateful. Why not simply demand that our own accountable politicians (and we have enough of them) spend our money in a way that can be held accountable to the British people? It sounds really quite simple and preferable. Which is why the grass routes representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses have twice voted to leave the EU.

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