Article written by CWS Board Adviser, Monima O’Connor:
Why does the Welsh Government not understand Small and Medium sized businesses
which are the lifeblood of our Principality? Is it because most Government MS’s
come to Cardiff Bay from the richly rewarded public sector with its comfortable safety net
and are clueless how the Welsh magic money tree bears fruit?
Here’s a quick primer how a small shop or independent business comes about:
Person has an idea, researches it, goes to discuss a business loan with his or her bank
manager, finds suitable rental premises, assesses the minefield of council tax, rent,
business rates, corporate tax, environmental procedure, health & safety procedures, public
indemnity insurance, premises insurance etc ,works out how much he needs to cover his or
her outgoings (to include possibly home and business loans), starts small and fervently
hopes to make a small profit if at all possible, and that customers return again and again.
Compare this by taking a look at Rhondda Cynon Taff’s County Council profile . It has a
significant portion of council tax band A houses valued less than £44,000 . Then link it to the
2019 salary package for the town’s Director of Regeneration & Planning who was handed of
loss of office payment of £238,000 on top of the annual salary of £95,000.
Can you see the sickening disparity in one of the poorest areas of Wales?
The vast majority of the 106,000 SMEs in Wales are those with less than 9 employees.
Yet, with the weakening of our town shops now on the cards due to the COVID 19
‘pandemic’ (my inverted commas) we see some businesses still in lockdown, others
struggling to keep their heads above water with the dwindling number of tourists now that
the Autumn weather is kicking in.
What was thought by everyone to be a slow revival in June for Wales’ High Street shops,
didn’t last more than a few weeks until the double whammy of pedestrianisation came as a
hammer blow to many towns.
The enduring poison pill is red tape that for years has had SMEs in a stranglehold from the
ground upwards. With Welsh taxation expected to increase, it will only further devastate
our shops and businesses, already considerably enfeebled by COVID-19 restrictions.
Four and a half long years after our historic vote for freedom from EU control in June 2016 ,
despairingly there may not be the same amount of small businesses and High Street shops
still surviving by the 31st December.
Drastic action must be enacted sooner rather than later to take Wales off life
Wales is run by unelected Quangos hand-in-hand with property developers and architects.
Bulldozing down historic town buildings, destruction of celebrated mosaics, re-naming
streets, ignoring residents’ wishes is all par for the course.
Curiously in many respects, London with its big population of 8.9 million (2019) is less
restricted than Wales with 3 million people. Even in the deep, rural Welsh hinterland with
scarcely ever any COVID 19 cases, we’ve remained in partial lockdown since June.
Lastly, in today’s report from the House of Commons on the important ‘Internal Markets
Bill’ the Scottish & Welsh Governments are threatening to withhold consent citing ‘ harmful
deregulation”. In the light of everything written above, you simply could not make this up.
There is a wide, open goal awaiting radical Welsh Conservatives. For the sake of the people
of Wales. It must be seized with alacrity