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Written Statement - Business Wales

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport

Since it became operational in January 2013, Business Wales has helped to create almost 9,000 jobs and safeguarded a further 2,300.  It has also helped create more than 6,580 new businesses in Wales during that period.

I established the Business Wales service to make it easier for Welsh businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs to access the information, advice and support they require to start and grow their businesses.  Business Wales has now become established as a ‘one stop shop’ for individuals wishing to start up in business, as well as for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) wishing to grow their business in Wales.

Business Wales services can be accessed via three main channels

  1. on line via www.business.wales.gov.uk and its social media presence;
  2. through a dedicated telephone helpline - 03000 6 03000; and  
  3. through a network of physical centres located across Wales.  

Business Wales provides access to wide ranging information and advice, from business planning, through to advice on new export markets and access to funding.

In addition to supporting job creation, Business Wales via its advisor network, has provided advice to over 15,300 SMEs, and information and signposting to over 35,800 other businesses, as well as supporting 25,800 individuals.

Business Wales has also dealt with over 62,500 enquiries via the Helpline and had nearly a million visits to its website, while its social media channels have reached over 58,000 followers.  In addition, sister service ‘Sell2Wales’ is now helping nearly 33,000 Welsh suppliers to compete for public service contract opportunities.  

It is pleasing to see the contribution Business Wales is making to support the economy. The latest data from StatsWales shows there are now 231,110 businesses in Wales, compared to 219,410 in 2013.  And in 2013 there was a 37% increase in the number of registered (i.e. VAT or PAYE) business births compared to the previous year.

Though this is indeed encouraging for the Welsh economy, maintaining a responsive approach to difficult situations is essential. That is why with the collapse of the Murco Oil Refinery deal, in addition to a further round of the Welsh Economic Growth Fund (WEGF), I launched the £500k Business Wales SME Capital Investment Grant to create and safeguard SME jobs in Pembrokeshire and a Business Wales access point in Milford Haven to ensure businesses impacted were able to access relevant advice and support.

I am delighted with the progress Business Wales has made during the last two years, but fully recognise in conjunction with my advisory Boards, Chaired by Robert Lloyd Griffiths (Director Wales IoD – Business Wales Board) and James Taylor (MD SuperStars- Entrepreneurship Panel) the need to continually improve service quality and access for SMEs and entrepreneurs. Over the coming months I will provide further updates aligned to the future delivery strategy for Business Wales supported by EU structural funds. This will include the Lending Ready Review undertaken by Robert Lloyd Griffiths, an enhanced focus on growth businesses and  the Welsh Government’s role in enhancing the business environment in Wales which will include working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on our future strategy and approach.

The Welsh Government remains committed to supporting and working with Welsh businesses and entrepreneurs to help them start and grow businesses and to create jobs in Wales.