Betrayal of the small firm sector

Another day and another example of how Plaid Cymru in Government is not listening to their grassroots members.

This time, it is the Plaid Cymru fortress of Gwynedd County Council who have broken with their colleagues in the Assembly.

On Wednesday, the leader of Gwynedd, Dyfed Edwards, stated in the Daily Post that he has

"already raised the possibility of reducing business rates as a significant practical means of easing the cash flow and credit problems facing local businesses with the Assembly Government’s Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport Ieuan Wyn Jones, and I have now formally written to him to request that the One Wales Assembly Government considers introducing this measure as a strategic priority.”

And the response from Ieuan to this call from his flagship local authority - nothing. However, we do get the usual response from the 'Assembly spokesperson' :

Across the board business rates reductions would mean that we could not target enough resources to those in most need. If business rates were reduced, the Assembly Government would have to make up the shortfall in revenue collected by reducing spending in other areas.

I would think in this time of economic crisis that it is fairly easy to make the argument that those most in need are the tens of thousands of small businesses which are still facing an increase in their business rates this year.

As for reducing spending in other areas, that is a matter for the Assembly Government although as I have suggested previously, they could certainly look to shift some of the hundreds of millions spent on business support directly into the pockets of our small firms.

I also seem to recall that the same argument was not used in shifting resources over to the ProAct scheme (which this blog identified as a possible solution well before any economic summit came up with the same idea).

Simply put, all three Plaid ministers, all of whom made public pronouncements for reductions in business rates prior to the last Assembly elections, clearly have no say whatsoever around the Cabinet table when it comes to spending decisions.

Indeed, there is now no difference whatsoever between the economic policies being pursued by this Red-Green Government and those pursued by Labour between 2003-2007.

Can those Plaid Cymru Ministers answer me this?

What is the point of having a portfolio for the economy if all you do with it is continue the failed policies of your predecessor, policies which you criticised vehemently whilst in opposition?

What is the point of being in power if all you do is allow your Government to slavishly replicate the policies of the Labour Government in Westminster regarding business rates?

At a time when political commentators are talking about issues such as the Welsh Language LCO and the devolution referendum as those by which the coalition government could fall, it is easy to forget that Plaid have been forced to abandon their main economic policy - cutting business rates for thousands of firms - in favour of staying in power.

In doing so, they have betrayed the small firm sector which they purport to support and, worst still, have betrayed the very essence of devolution, which is doing things differently, and better, for the Welsh nation.

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