Introduction | Cyflwyniad

The past five years have seen substantial political and economic upheaval within Wales’ landscape culminating in one of the most significant challenges in generations for business owners in the guise of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, throughout this period of change, one constant has been the essential role played by Wales’ smaller businesses in supporting local communities, creating wealth and employment, driving innovation and helping Wales adapt and respond to these challenges.

The 2021 Welsh Parliament elections come at a critical juncture for the Welsh economy. Not only will the people of Wales be electing the first Welsh Parliament, under a renewed set of legislative and fiscal powers, but they will also be helping to determine the nature of Wales’ economic recovery from that challenge posed by Covid-19.

In the past 12 months, FSB Wales has undertaken an unprecedented level of engagement with thousands of smaller business owners across the nation to identify the priorities and opportunities for our next Government and Senedd. This has included a range of events throughout the year, thematic research and an extensive ‘state of the nation’ survey of 500 business owners to get an idea of what matters to Welsh businesses. All this activity represents the most extensive consultation for FSB since devolution and engagement which has put businesses at the very centre of the discussion.

Behind the proposals outlined in this manifesto lie an ambition to grow and develop an entrepreneurial Wales, protect and reinforce our communities, add value to the global mission of decarbonisation and help inform and develop a brand for Wales which is internationally-ambitious and recognisable. One of the main proposals is for the construction of an Economic Development Bill – the first in Wales’ history – which would underpin many of the opportunities to transform our economy.

In the information below you’ll hear from our members who will tell us, in their own words, why these issues are of such importance to them and their business.

This is an agenda which challenges all to engage and an agenda which recognises that whether a political decision maker or a business owner, Our Business is Wales.

At the heart of our proposals is a new Economic Development Bill for Wales. Since the establishment of devolution in 1999 and full law making powers in 2011, no Welsh Government has undertaken legislation aimed specifically to address the Welsh economy. With the democratic institutions in Wales by now well-established, we think now is the right time to embark on such legislation. As such, we propose an Economic Development Bill for Wales, which would underpin the measures and architecture to help develop many of the ideas included in this manifesto.

Such a bill can provide a clear long-term footing for economic development in Wales. It can ensure that our business advice and support services have longevity and stability and are able to react in supporting businesses when crises arise such has been the case through Covid-19. It can make the safe guardianship of our economy a legal reality.

We would expect the bill to be introduced early in the life of the next Welsh Parliament and to lay the institutional foundations for our future economic recovery and prosperity.

Download the manifesto in full

Click below to download the report in full. You can also download our asks for the Welsh Government as a poster to display in your business.