Welsh businesses are being forced to wait over twice as long for government funding under the new system – the ‘flagship’ Economic Renewal Programme (ERP).
During 2009/10 – under the ‘Flexible Support for Business’ scheme – applications for funding were processed in an average ’12 working days’.
According to a written response from the Business Minister, the average wait for businesses since the ERP replaced it last year is:
- one month for low value projects (up to £20k)
- three to four months for higher value projects
That means the wait for a decision on applications has more than doubled – and in some cases may be nine times as long.
Shadow Minister for Business, Nick Ramsay AM, submitted the written question. He said: “Right now, Welsh businesses need as much support as possible, as quickly as possible.
“Instead, we have a ridiculous situation where a government scheme that’s supposed to be energising and supporting our economy, is only succeeding in hindering it and slowing things down.
“The amount of money actually given out under the ERP is questionable – there was nothing until January, despite the ERP’s introduction last summer – and to find out the processing time is so sluggish is very worrying.
“If the previous system could get it done much quicker, I would expect the Business Minister to urgently review procedure and find out why there are such delays.
“If the Economic Renewal Programme is to continue – as eventually confirmed at the end of the last Assembly term – it has got to be functioning efficiently and competently.
“These figures suggest otherwise.”