What does the Welsh Government’s economic action plan mean for social businesses?
Following the launch of ‘Prosperity for All: the national strategy’, Welsh Government has published its new economic action plan. It sets out Welsh Government’s plans to increase wealth and well-being through inclusive economic growth. The main points are summarised below. Welsh Government has started a period of engagement on the plan and we’d love to hear from social businesses across Wales who would like to feed in their views.
Growing the economy inclusively, spreading opportunity and promoting well-being are at the heart of the action plan. Its key proposals include an economic contract, a new Economy Futures Fund, Regional Working and Calls to Action. The plan focuses on national and foundation sectors in place of the previous multiple key sectors.
The new economic contract will challenge businesses to demonstrate the contribution they will make to wider Welsh Government objectives in return for support. These wider objectives are growth potential, fair work, progress in reducing carbon footprint and promotion of help. Initially, it will apply to Welsh Government’s direct financial support to businesses. Businesses seeking financial support will also be required to contribute to at least one of the five Calls to Action. The Calls to Action are:
- Innovation, entrepreneurship and headquarters
- Exports and trade
- High quality employment, skills development and fair work
- R&D, automation and digitalisation
The financial support being offered will also be streamlined into a single Economy Futures Fund. The Fund will include grants and repayable forms of finance, such as loans. The balance between these will reflect the economic cycle, with the balance shifting in favour of repayable forms of finance when times are good and in favour of traditional grants when the business environment is less favourable.
The plan also replaces the previous approach of supporting priority sectors with support for national thematic sectors and foundational sectors. The new national thematic sectors are tradable services, high value manufacturing and enablers such as digital, energy efficiency and renewables. The foundational economy provides essential goods and services for everyday life. This includes infrastructures; utilities; food processing, retailing and distribution; and health, education and welfare. The action plan proposes supporting four foundation sectors – tourism, food, retail and care. It states that there are considerable opportunities to work with the third sector, social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals in developing Welsh Government’s approach to the foundation sectors. It proposes working with these sectors to ensure they play a full part in the economy, building upon the good work of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission.
What do you think about the plan? Have you got any comments or suggestions that you’d like to share? Tell us your thoughts by emailing Ceri-Anne.Fidler@wales.coop.