A NEW VOICE FOR ENTERPRISE

THE CHALLENGE

The Welsh economy has failed to achieve its potential under Labour.

Despite spending billions, the gap between poorer parts of Wales and the UK is widening. And even two rounds of EU structural funds have not shifted Wales up the economic table.

Incredibly, Wales is so poor under Labour that it is likely to qualify for a 3rd round of EU funds.

Wales needs a more enterprising, productive and skilful economy. Not since the early years of the 20th century has the Welsh economy been at the forefront of British enterprise. Wales requires a new economic vision to bring about radical changes to set the nation on the path to sustainable growth.

A NEW VOICE

The Welsh Conservative Party will focus on increasing the size of the private sector in Wales. It is our business culture that must be strengthened.

Economies with a strong business culture also attract high value investment from abroad. We will be a new voice for Welsh enterprise. The Welsh Conservative Party believes that, at a minimum, Welsh wealth should be 85% of the UK average by 2020 and 100% by 2030. The first vital step to this success will be the abolition of business rates for small businesses.

Of course, ambition is not enough. Only effective policies can help bring about the level of enterprise we desire. It is the natural enterprise of the Welsh people that will achieve this transformation. It must be our role in government to enhance this enterprise and not stand in the way with out-dated policies.

A WELSH CONSERVATIVE ASSEMBLY GOVERNMENT WILL:

Boost Business

Abolish business rates for businesses below £12,000 rateable value (and taper the rate between £12,001 – £15,000).

Publish a manufacturing and technical innovation strategy and encourage international partnerships.

Create at least 4 Enterprise Zones in Wales to promote economic and social regeneration.

Establish a made-in-Wales Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme ‘Building Together’ as part of a Welsh Infrastructure Plan.

Encourage closer working between the public and private sectors.

Support West Wales and the Valleys’ bid for the next round of EU structural funding, but use this funding to promote private sector projects and initiatives.

Create a stronger Council for Economic Renewal (called Enterprise Wales) to give the private sector a larger role in public policy.

Work with the private sector, EU and UK government to deliver universal broadband coverage and 85% high speed coverage. We will work with providers to improve mobile coverage, particularly in rural Wales.

Publish a White Paper on Welsh financial services.

Offer a skills audit and advice on skills improvement to everyone over 40.

Contract out business support to maximise value for public money and to take advantage of private sector expertise.

Publish a Shopkeepers Strategy to help the retail sector and shops across Wales.

Establish a Welsh hub in London to help Welsh businesses take advantage of global opportunities.

Publish a White Paper on the role of the planning process in economic regeneration

Create New Jobs

Create private sector-led skills academies to provide job-focused training particularly in distribution and transport, construction, IT, and services.

Offer business support tailored for unemployed people with the potential to start a business or franchise.

Facilitate work placements with small businesses to mentor and train young people who lack skills and experience, and who cannot embark on an apprenticeship.

Work with Graduate Opportunities Wales to assist graduates to find work placements, training opportunities and jobs.

Establish a microcredit scheme to stimulate enterprise in areas of multiple deprivation.

Continue the Joint Employment Board with the Department of Work and Pensions to add value to The Work Programme’s measures and to ensure programmes do not overlap or clash.

Move the skills and HE portfolios to the Minister for Economy and Transport so that the employability of graduates and young people is promoted.

Build a Modern Transport Network

Seek to establish a direct air link between Wales and North America.

Commission a study into the economic effect of bridge tolls in Wales and options to reduce or remove tolls. We will freeze the Severn bridge tolls for cars at their present level.

Take full advantage of the opportunities offered by rail electrification and seek to work with the UK government to extend electrification to the Valleys network and west along the Great Western line to Swansea.

In light of the UK government’s forthcoming review of the railways we will explore the possibility of devolving Network Rail to Wales.

Seek to improve the rail links between North Wales and the conurbations of North West England and links to South Wales.

Focus the road building budget on maintenance and improve the network through the Building Together scheme.

Make roads safer for children and pedestrians and reduce the level of accidental death and serious injury.

Create a safer environment for walking and cycling and encourage such exercise as carbon free alternatives to short car journeys.

Promote Tourism

Ensure that small tourist operators pay no business rates.

Boost the marketing of Wales as a destination in the home and international markets.

Promote Welsh food and drink and other key growth markets like walking, fishing and country sports.

Publish a Religious Heritage Strategy to promote tourism and knowledge of religious heritage.

Develop a Seaside Towns Strategy.