Support for Businesses in Caerphilly

1. Questions to the First Minister – in the Senedd at on 4 June 2024.

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Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

(Translated)

2. Will the First Minister provide an update on Welsh Government support for businesses in Caerphilly? OQ61210

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 1:36, 4 June 2024

Thank you for the question. Our Business Wales service should be the first port of call for any business in the Caerphilly area in need of support. Since 2016, it has supported the creation of over 1,400 jobs, 283 new-start businesses, and provided support to over 1,800 individuals and businesses within Caerphilly.

Photo of Hefin David Hefin David Labour

I was reading just the other day about the futureproofing fund the Welsh Government is introducing. Can he give us more detail about how that's going to benefit businesses in such areas as the retail and leisure sectors in Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach and Bargoed in my constituency?

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour

Thank you for the question. The futureproofing fund was launched by the economy Secretary on 20 May. It's a £20 million fund to provide discretionary financial assistance to microbusinesses and small and medium-sized enterprises in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. It's designed to help invest in measures to help them reduce their running costs, and to futureproof their businesses. I'm looking forward to seeing the applications that will come in for the different businesses we want to be able to support. It's part of what we look to do in investing in the future of our economy, in the jobs that our local communities and workers need. I want to see more tools in our armoury to do that, not desperately fighting against a deliberate attempt to take money and powers away from this Government and this Senedd. I expect there'll be more that we can do together, with local authorities, with businesses, if we do see a new start on 4 July. But we will carry on doing what we should do, with the powers we have, with the money that we have, to make those positive choices to support businesses in Caerphilly and beyond.

Photo of Laura Anne Jones Laura Anne Jones Conservative 1:37, 4 June 2024

As my colleague has already said, we now see Welsh businesses facing the highest business rates in Britain. You are certainly not the party for small businesses. These businesses, especially in our region, have been crying out for help, and what constituents have been telling us all for months is that this business rate rise will cause businesses to either shut or even move to England. This is obviously damaging to the economy and is an example of this Welsh Government not supporting young people, as you've just said, or any people at all. As we know on these benches, you cannot tax an economy into prosperity. It's all about choices, First Minister. And what worries me even more is that Keir Starmer now states that Wales is his plan for the rest of the UK. So, First Minister, can you tell us how this Government, and when this Government, actually plans to help businesses in my region and beyond, and bring them in line with the rest of the UK, instead of taxing them out of business?

Photo of Vaughan Gething Vaughan Gething Labour 1:38, 4 June 2024

Well, it's an extraordinary thing for a Conservative representative to stand up and talk about taxes. We have the highest tax burden in peacetime, under this UK Conservative Government—the highest tax burden in peacetime. We have the second lowest growth in any G7 country over the last year—all on the Tory watch. And they now say they're the party of business and the party of the economy. Well, people will make a judgment on that on 4 July, and I look forward to that judgment. We are dealing with a deliberate reduction in our budget—£700 million in real terms—and the deliberate taking away of money and powers of more than £1 billion of money that this Parliament and this Government should have determined, to invest in the long-term future of our economy. All of those choices were made by a UK Conservative Government, with cheerleaders in this place. Not a single Welsh Conservative raised their voice in opposition to the taking away of money and powers from Wales. I am confident that we will make a positive case to people in Wales in this election, for our future. And I say again, who on earth would want to stand with the Tories in what is to come after what you have done to Wales?