Labour’s Enterprise Zones must deliver value for money or be dropped

Welsh Labour’s enterprise zones must start delivering value for money in 2018 according to the Welsh Conservatives.

The Welsh Government recently published job creation data for each of the individual enterprise zones for the first time since their establishment in 2012.

According to the data, each new job created as a result of the Welsh Government’s flagship economic policy has come at a cost of around £74,000 per head – with £221 million having been invested overall since 2012 at a return of fewer than 3,000 new jobs.

Shadow Economy Secretary, Russell George AM, says the data suggests that enterprise zones “could prove to be the biggest waste of public money in the devolved era”.

He is calling on the Welsh Government to ensure that the zones provide value for money in 2018. The Assembly committee chaired by Mr George will consider the performance of the flagship scheme in the new year.

Enterprise Zones were set up by the Welsh Government to ‘grow the local economy and provide new jobs’.

But the figures suggest that, in practice, the zones have been used to subsidise the retention of existing jobs.

Headline Figures (All Zones):

2,998.1 jobs created

4,539 jobs safeguarded

3,169.4 jobs assisted

Cost per job created: £73,731.35

Commenting on the figures, Mr George said:

“2018 must be the year of delivery for enterprise zones.

“We need to see tangible evidence that the zones are delivering value for money or ministers will have to look at other ways to create new jobs.

“When Enterprise Zones were launched in 2012, we were told they would strengthen the competitiveness of the Welsh economy, but there’s little evidence of those claims coming to fruition.

“Some of the zones have clearly underperformed, and in the long run this policy could prove to be the biggest waste of public money in the devolved era.”

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said:

“Labour’s enterprise zones have cost the Welsh taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds – with very little to show for the money.

“Some of the zones have been absolutely disastrous, supporting only a handful of jobs.

“Instead of creating vibrant hubs for enterprise, enterprise zones look more like the subsidy farms of the Soviet era.

“Sooner or later the question will have to be asked: is it time to stop throwing good money after bad?”