‘Welsh economy has underperformed for two decades’: Welsh Conservatives demand a better deal for Wales

The Welsh Shadow Minister for Business, Economy and Infrastructure, Russell George AM, has called on the Welsh Government to improve life for Welsh taxpayers, businesses and their employees through a shake-up of the economy.

The Welsh Conservative calls have come in the wake of ONS figures out this morning which declare that Wales has the lowest disposable household income of all UK nations. The average income of £15,754 sits considerably lower than the UK, English and Scottish figures.

Mr George led Welsh Conservative calls in the chamber this afternoon for the Labour-led government to recognise that attempts to boost the Welsh economy have failed over the past 20 years, and as a result the country’s potential under devolution is not being realised.

The Montgomeryshire AM began by welcoming on one hand the new approach of the Welsh Government’s latest Economic Action Plan as a ‘shift away’ from the ‘failed approach,’ and emphasised that, as a result, today’s debate was “not intended to be a party political attack on the Welsh Government”.

He did however, go on to criticise the plan’s lack of detail, ambition, and the Welsh Government’s failure to execute its intensions.

The Welsh Labour Government’s sorry record of economic development shows that of the three economic plans launched during their time of unbroken power, not one has succeeded in improving earnings or economic output.

Instead, we hear of poorly judged and harmful Welsh Government PR campaigns which actually advertise Wales as a place for business to be drawn to thanks to our poorly-paid workforce.

As a result, Welsh Conservatives today called on Welsh Labour to take fresh action to improve the economy for all. The motion asked the Welsh Government to: simplify and improve access to business support; align an effective industrial strategy; reform the failing public procurement strategy to support small and medium size businesses; upskill the workforce; and reflect this boost with suitably improved infrastructure.

Commenting outside the chamber, Mr George said:

“We want to see the true potential of devolution realised in Wales, which we’ll achieve through an ambitious policy programme in order to shake off our place at the bottom of the UK league tables.

“Today’s figures are inexcusable. The stark difference between Wales and all other UK nations can only be explained by a devolved government failing to provide for its people.

“It should be a source of shame for the Welsh Government that after two decades, it also oversees the weakest economy in the UK, and the lowest productivity levels in the UK.

“I have set out today how a Welsh Conservative government would create the right conditions for our economy in order to see the end of regional inequality across Wales, and in turn see a boost to living standards as well as properly planned and funded health, education and local government services.”