Welsh business embassy needed in London

Cover of IWA's response to Economic Renewal consultation

Stevie Upton reports on the IWA’s response to the Welsh Government’s economic renewal consultation

The private sector should play a far greater part in the delivery of economic development programmes if Wales is to rise from the bottom of the UK competitiveness rankings. So says our response to the Welsh Government’s Economic Renewal consultation, published today.

Creating a Positive Business Environment for Wales argues that the Welsh Government’s ambivalence about the role of the private sector is preventing the effective application of business expertise. Central to a new approach should be the creation of a Welsh business embassy in London. According to the report, “establishing a business embassy would serve to ensure an ongoing Welsh presence close to the heart of UK Government”. It would serve Welsh business interests by:

  • Acting as a visible focus for Wales in a world capital.
  • Selling Wales to venture capitalists as an investment location.
  • Promoting Welsh exports.
  • Targeting businesses seeking inward investment opportunities in the UK.
  • Lobbying for Welsh interests at the UK level.

The report concludes that “creation of one or more arm’s length bodies, combined with outsourcing of certain delivery functions to private sector-led organisations, is central to the effective implementation of economic development strategies”.

The Institute proposes the development of a ‘hub and spoke’ model to replace the current structure of the Department for the Economy and Transport. A slimmed down civil service hub should focus on policy creation, monitoring and evaluation, with delivery undertaken by a limited number of independent public and private sector organisations.

Other key recommendations include: focusing the Welsh Government’s own resources on infrastructure and skills, and specifically on developing high-speed east-west rail infrastructure, and ensuring that all school leavers achieve adequate basic skills; and using the £5 billion annual public procurement budget to prompt private sector growth whilst securing public service provision.

The report draws on the extensive experience of the Institute’s Economy and Finance Study Group, as well as on the views of providers of business support, business representative organisations and academics.

A hard copy of the IWA’s response is available here.

Stevie Upton is Research Officer with the IWA

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