Member of the Welsh Parliament for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, last week in the Senedd questioned the First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, on the support being given to the rural economy during the pandemic.
The First Minister responded stating: “The Welsh Government has taken a range of steps to support the entire economy, as well as making specific funding available for the rural economy in Wales.”
Nick continued by asking the First Minister: “As you've just highlighted, the rural economy faces different and various challenges compared to urban areas, and that's always been the case pre the pandemic as well. The pandemic has exposed how vulnerable our rural way of life can be. Has any assessment been made of how many job losses there have been in rural communities compared to urban areas, and how many losses of companies there have been? How is support being specifically tailored so that it is suited to the particular issues that rural areas are facing at the moment, and, indeed, as we come out of the pandemic and hopefully grow back better?”
Mark Drakeford MS replied:” I thank the Member for that important question. He will know that, at the present moment, the level of job losses in the UK economy is quite difficult to discern. The job retention scheme, which we have supported, has suppressed the level of job losses, and the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility tell us that it will not be until the second and third quarters of this year that we get a proper sense of the economic impact that coronavirus and Brexit, leaving the European Union, have had on our economy. So, at this point, I think it's quite difficult to have identified with any reliability the level of job losses in different parts of the Welsh economy, whether that is sectoral or geographical. The Welsh Government's help has, though, been very specifically directed to sectors of the economy that are important in parts of rural Wales. The support that we've provided to the tourism sector, for example, is a very important component of the economy of rural communities in many parts of Wales, and the additional help that we have announced in recent weeks will go on sustaining that industry through until the end of March. I'm very happy, in the way that the Member suggested, to make sure that we go on working with those interests that represent the different parts of the rural economy here in Wales to make sure that, as we move beyond coronavirus and into the recovery period, this Welsh Government will go on supporting them so that they are able to resume the economic activity that they wish to be able to carry out in order to be able to create successful futures in those industries.”