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Monday, January 9, 2017

AM "seriously concerned" over regional prosperity figures

* See response from Wales's Economy Secretary Ken Skates at the foot of the story ...

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood says he is seriously concerned that the publication of new economic prosperity figures show North Wales is trailing even further behind the rest of the UK. 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published regional gross value added (GVA) figures for 2015, which measure the value of the goods and services per head of population produced in an economy.

They show that at £16,059, West Wales and the Valleys, including four North Wales counties, Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy and Denbighshire, still has the lowest GVA of all UK sub regions, down again to just 63.3% of the UK average.

West Wales and The Valleys has had the lowest GVA per head of all UK sub-regions in each of the years1997 to 2015, moving relatively further away from the UK average since the start of the time period.

Anglesey still has the lowest GVA amongst all UK local areas at £13,411, down again to just 52.9% of the UK average.

Even GVA per head in Wrexham and Flintshire, which stood at 99.3 per cent of the UK average in 1999, has fallen again to just 84% of the UK average.

At £18,002, Wales continues to have the lowest GVA per head amongst the 12 UK nations and regions, standing at only 71% of the UK average.

Mr Isherwood (pictured) said: “With Labour Welsh Government in charge of economic development in Wales since 1999, this record of failure is a betrayal of North Wales, demanding a change of direction.

“The UK Government announced in its March 2016 Budget that it was ‘opening the door’ to a Growth Deal for North Wales and that it would be looking for the next Welsh Government to devolve powers down and invest in the region as part of any future deal.

“Proposals detailed in "A Growth Vision for the Economy of North Wales", developed by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board in partnership with the Mersey Dee Alliance and the Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, went to both the UK and Welsh Government’s last summer.

“The UK Treasury responded by asking the Ambition Board to detail their strategic priorities and prioritise projects, and the Chancellor’s  Autumn Statement in November 2016 confirmed that the UK Government continued to be open to discussing options for a Growth Deal with North Wales.

“However, the Welsh Government has dodged my questions about how and whether it has responded to the call in the North Wales Growth Vision document for the devolution of powers by the Welsh Government over employment, taxes, skills and transport, which it states ‘would boost the economy, jobs and productivity, create at least 120,000 jobs, and boost the value of the local economy from £12.8 billion to £20 billion by 2035’.

“After almost 18 years of Labour excuses, the time has come to enable North Wales to become a beacon of prosperity, vision and ambition.”

The Economy Secretary, Ken Skates said:  “Latest GVA figures show an improving  picture for Wales, with 2015’s total  GVA for Wales  standing at £55.8 billion, an increase of 3 per cent on the previous year and rising faster than the UK average.

“The figures also show  that GVA per head  increased by  2.8 per cent on 2014 figures in Wales compared to an increase of 2.1 per cent for the UK,  and last year stood at £18,002.

“Latest  figures mean Wales’ increase in GVA per head was the third highest of UK countries and regions.

“We recognise there is  more to do  and we will keep working hard to grow Wales’ economy. Developments  such as our  Valleys Taskforce, Wylfa Newydd and our plans for the Third Menai Crossing will all help to drive up GVA in some of Wales’ less prosperous communities.

“There is absolutely no room for complacency but these figures  do show that our pro-business approach is driving growth and  making a real difference to the lives of ordinary people  across Wales.”

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