Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise, has responded to today’s statistics showing that unemployment in Wales fell by around 6,000 from January to March 2013.
“These figures are good news for Wales and something that both the Welsh Government and the UK Government must continue to improve.
“However, Wales continues to have a higher percentage of its workforce unemployed than England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and this is an issue that the Welsh Government should not ignore.
“More investment is needed to equip our residents, particularly the young, with the right skills to ensure that the jobs they have become long term careers that not only benefit them but also the Welsh Economy in the long term.”
Commenting on today’s published list of Welsh Government Trade Missions and Exhibitions over the next twelve months, Shadow Liberal Democrat Business Minister Eluned Parrott AM said:
“I welcome the news that the Welsh Government are attending lots of events with the aim of boosting the Welsh Economy however the Welsh Government must ensure that they get useful outcomes from these trips as our export economy is continuing to struggle.
“Just last month we learnt that Welsh exports to non EU countries fell by 7.5% while the UK wide figure rose by 5.1%. Clearly a better focus is needed to deliver the results Wales and Welsh taxpayers deserve.
“More than a year ago the Economy Minister Edwina Hart conceded that her department hadn’t got the branding for Wales right. That is now the critical issue – what market proposition are we using to sell ourselves overseas and is it clear enough? For many years we have attempted to say that we were both a cheap location for inward investment but also a confident export economy in our own right. We can’t appeal to both the lowest and the highest common denominator at the same time and expect to be seen as credible.
“The Welsh Government must finalise its branding strategy for Wales and start delivering a confident, consistent message to our trading partners and investors. Attending one trade mission and getting it right will be more valuable than sending out mixed messages at twenty.”
Responding to the Government statement on Jobs Growth Wales and the news that 66.5% of the 6000 jobs created for young people have been filled, Eluned Parrott AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister said:
“I congratulate the government on creating over 6,000 job opportunities and filling two thirds of them; that alone is a substantial task and deserves credit.
“However the success of a job creation scheme should be judged not just on the opportunities created, but more importantly on how many people take part and then go on to find meaningful employment as a result.
“Figures that I have obtained show that only two thirds of the placements created have actually been filled, and only two thirds of those are then completed. On that basis, the success rate is just 44% for the whole process, rather than the 79% success rate claimed by the Deputy Minister today.
“We also need clarification of the costs of this scheme. There are no figures outlining how much it cost to create each sustainable job, and that must be cause for concern. While every job created is transformative for the individual involved, we need to know that Jobs Growth Wales is a cost-effective way of creating employment opportunities. Without substantially more information from the Welsh Government, there will be a question mark over the success of this scheme.
“I’m also concerned about the regional variances in the number of jobs created and the number of jobs filled. The percentage of jobs filled ranges from 50% in Swansea to 80% in Merthyr – clearly we need to make sure that young people across Wales have an equal chance of getting a job, regardless of where they live.”
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise, has welcomed that The Queen’s Speech will help over 35,000 businesses in Wales by cutting National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
The National Insurance Contributions Bill announced by the Queen will introduce a National Insurance employment allowance of £2,000, reducing the cost of employment and supporting small businesses who want to grow and hire their first employee or expand their workforce.
Commenting, Eluned Parrott AM said:
“Building a stronger economy in a fairer society is our priority, and the Liberal Democrats have ensured that the Queen’s Speech has measures that will help to deliver that.
“In these difficult times, it’s vital that we help small businesses to hire more people and get the economy moving. Here in Wales, small businesses represent a higher proportion of private sector employment than in any other part of the UK, so the impact will be particularly helpful here.
“Giving our small businesses more help with National Insurance Contributions will cut one of the barriers that prevents them from taking on new staff, creating jobs for people across Wales. I look forward to working with these businesses to ensure they can get the most out of this excellent announcement.”
Commenting on the news that the UK economy grew by 0.3% in the last quarter, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister, Eluned Parrott AM said:
“This is obviously good news for the UK as a whole and shows that broadly the UK is heading in the right direction but this is not a time for either the UK or Welsh Governments to sit back.
“The Welsh Government in particular needs to step up a gear selling Wales to the world and attracting inward investment to Wales and especially our seven Enterprise Zones which have so far done very little, with not a single brick laid or a single job created as a direct result of Welsh Government action.”
“Only today Spain’s unemployment rate soared to a new record of 27.2% – that is incredibly high and just goes to show the exceptionally difficult backdrop we are working with here. Nonetheless, the UK’s economy is moving in the right direction and it must continue that way and this is not a time for complacency.”
Speaking after an update from the Welsh Government on its Enterprise Zone programme, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Economy Spokesperson said:
“Twenty months after the launch of the Welsh Government’s flagship Enterprise Zone Programme, the people of Wales are still none the wiser as to what the Welsh Government is doing.
“To date, there is no evidence that a single new private sector job has been created or a single brick being laid as a direct result of these Enterprise Zones.
“The Minister has still to announce any targets or aspirations for either job creation or the building of new premises. Only now is the marketing of the Zones beginning to take place. In terms of promoting our zones, we’re still on the starting line while our competitors in places such as Bristol and Liverpool are half-way down the back straight.
“The Minister has also refused to announce when the promised transport infrastructure improvements will be delivered, including the vital direct bus link from Cardiff to Cardiff Airport and St Athan.
Backwards thinking over North Wales
“Last year, Plaid Cymru agreed to support the Welsh Labour Government’s budget in exchange for the creation of a science park in North Wales. Today we learn that only now are the Welsh Government working with two Universities on creating a business case for this science park, a full six months after it was first announced.
“This just goes to show the backwards way in which this government is approaching Enterprise Zones.”
“Once again, Wales is being left behind, in comparison to England.”
Responding to the news that Wales’ unemployment rate was down by 3,000 on the previous three months, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise, commented:
“I’m delighted that the unemployment rate is down – but of course there can be no room for complacency.
“Wales’ economy is extremely fragile, even more so than the rest of the UK. We need both the UK and the Welsh Government to be working closely together to ensure that these stats aren’t just a one off, but are instead the start of a trend.
“As we all know, there is still a long way to go. The Welsh Labour Government needs to be doing more to support people, especially young people, who are looking for jobs to ensure that they are not unemployed for long periods of time, which can be incredibly demoralising.”
Following the statement from Edwina Hart regarding Cardiff Airport, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Minister Eluned Parrott said:
“Very little progress seems to have been made and if it has, the Minister isn’t giving anything away.
“I had hoped that Edwina Hart would bring forward the Government’s long held plans for an express bus service from Central Cardiff to the Airport, but as with so many of the Government’s other aspirations for transport, it seems to have been side-lined.
“This bus link is vital; a direct high quality bus service from Swansea to Bristol Airport via Cardiff will shortly be launched without any tax payer assistance. The Welsh Government really does need to start their service, which was first announced almost four years ago, as soon as possible.
“Edwina Hart has also said very little about how the Airport and its new management team will work with the neighbouring Enterprise Zone, something she herself has established.
“The Welsh Government has a golden opportunity to improve transport links to our airport and to attract new routes and airlines, but so far we’ve heard absolutely nothing on what they are going to do. The First Minister has been heading up a task force for over ten months now and it’s been over four months since Carwyn decided to buy it. They’ve seemingly made next to no progress on how to turn it around.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats have long supported the survival of our airport but what the Welsh government is doing and more importantly what they are not doing is very worrying for everyone in Wales.”
Eluned Parrott, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, has hailed the 6th April Income Tax cut as a giant leap towards the Liberal Democrat goal of a fairer tax system.
On 6th April 2013, the Personal Allowance will be raised to £9,440 – the largest rise in the Personal Allowance ever. This means that 265,600 ordinary basic rate taxpayers in Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan will see their Income Tax cut for the third year in a row. That will bring the total Income Tax cut since Labour’s time in government to £600.
Thanks to this rise in the point at which you start to pay Income Tax, the number of the lowest paid people who have been lifted out of paying any Income Tax in South Wales Central will reach 22,670.
Commenting, Eluned Parrott AM said:
“This Income Tax cut is real help for ordinary people in these difficult times. It is evidence of how in the Coalition Government, the Liberal Democrat priority is to create a fairer society and a stronger economy, enabling everyone to get on in life.
“Labour increased taxes for lower paid workers by abolishing the 10p tax rate and now stand on the side-lines denying their responsibility for the economic mess they created. It shows how people still can’t trust them to make the right decisions on the economy.
“At the same time, we know that you can’t trust the Tories to deliver a fairer society. It is thanks to Liberal Democrats that 24million basic rate taxpayers are getting an Income Tax cut on 6th April. At the same time, Liberal Democrats in the Coalition are cracking down on tax avoidance and ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share.”
Commenting on the news that Welsh Exports fell by over 10% in 2012 compared to a drop of just 1.7% for the UK as a whole, Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister, has called on the Welsh Government to introduce a manufacturing strategy and to rapidly accelerate the Welsh Government’s roll out of its Enterprise Zones to help the wider Welsh economy.
Eluned Parrott said: “This is startling news. Wales is faring far worse than the rest of the UK and our exports are falling drastically.
“In terms of exports to countries outside the EU such as Asia, The Far East and America – all places that Welsh Labour Ministers have just visited on trade missions, Wales saw its exports fall by 7.5% while the UK as a whole saw a rise of 5.1% to non EU countries.
“The public and businesses will quite rightly soon be asking, what has this all been for if major progress isn’t made soon. I want to see the Welsh Government publish a manufacturing strategy which will begin to address these issues as well as for a drastic acceleration of the Welsh Government’s Enterprise Zones which were announced over 18 months ago but are still little more than maps and drawings in architects offices rather than the jobs, offices, factories and opportunities that they should be.”