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Written Statement - Update on Access to Finance

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport

Following my previous statements on Access to Finance and the Availability of Funding for SMEs in Wales, I would like to update Members on the work which has been undertaken on the feasibility of creating a Development Bank for Wales (DBW).

In June 2014, I asked Professor Dylan Jones-Evans to lead a Task & Finish Group to explore the potential mission, role and operations that a Development Bank could undertake and to provide an evidence-based feasibility study on the options for consideration.

I have now received his report which raises key points about the methods to close the funding gap and help deliver finance to Welsh SMEs including charitable, community and social enterprises. It also raises questions about some of the principles which underpin the provision of finance and the role of government funding for SMEs in economic development.

In undertaking the feasibility study, the Group sought contributions from numerous industry bodies and institutions, engaged extensively across the banking and finance sector, as well as with intermediaries, academia and the wider business community. I would like to thank all of the individuals and organisations who have participated and contributed to this study, and in particular I would like to place on record my thanks to Professor Jones-Evans and the Members of the Group for producing this significant body of work.

I will be making an Oral Statement on the 17th March which will provide an opportunity to discuss the report.