Figures obtained by the Welsh Liberal Democrats have shown that Wales has received almost half the post-Brexit funding for small businesses that Northern Ireland has received. This is despite the fact that Wales has a population of 3.1 million compared to Northern Ireland's 1.8 million. In 2019, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Wales accounted for 62.4% of employment and 37.9% of turnover.
The figures show that across the UK less than half of the £20 million post-Brexit Government fund to help small businesses deal with new rules for trading with the EU has been handed out to companies. Out of the £8.4 million that has been handed out England has received £7.2 million, Scotland £476,539, Northern Ireland £434,234 and in Wales just £230,159.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have claimed the figures show that the Tories have “shamefully left many small Welsh businesses high and dry” and called on Rishi Sunak to reopen the fund during his budget next week.
Party Leader Jane Dodds MS stated: “Smaller firms have continually borne the brunt of both the pandemic and the government’s botched Brexit deal. The Conservatives are shamefully letting down the backbone of the Welsh economy.
“Instead of offering small business owners support to help them get back on their feet, ministers are clobbering them with a manifesto-breaking tax hike in the form of national insurance rises.
“The Government must relaunch this fund, significantly increase its budget and appoint a new SME trade minister to listen to the concerns of small businesses. It must also significantly increase its engagement with Welsh businesses to make them aware of the fund.