Economy minister Ken Skates says the next raft of funding will be rapidly rolled out and that it has been shaped to meet needs of businesses left in lockdown.
Wales was placed into Alert Level 4 lockdown on December 20 with hospitality, leisure and non-essential retail closed.
Business resilience funding was rolled out – while many but not all hospitality, tourism and leisure firms have been able to apply for additional help from the Sector Specific Grant.
But many companies have now gone over a month without additional funds, calling for clarity on future support.
First minister Mark Drakeford will tomorrow reveal how a new £200m pot of funding will be spent to support businesses in the coming weeks.
It comes as it is expected Welsh firms will remain in lockdown for at least another three weeks.
Economy minister Ken Skates said: “The aim is to maintain a consistency of approach during the Level 4 Alert period so businesses can have that surety of being able to get through to the next financial year with Government support to the same degree they’ve had to date, should it be required.
“We are on a three weekly basis reviewing where we are in terms of transmission rates, infection rates and test positivity.
“We’ll be announcing full details in the coming days to make sure there is a seamless transition through to the next period of financial support.”
He praised local authorities for getting money out to businesses rapidly and said the new funds will be allocated in a similar way to the business resilience fund.
He added: “The aim is to get it out in a seamless and smooth way, so utilising the same structures is the aim so it will be a shorter wait for businesses.”
On asked whether £200m would be sufficient to support the businesses who need help, he said: “We have based it on the figures we know are accurate, the number of enterprises that are going to require this support, should it be required because of Alert Level 4 being maintained.
“So we know exactly what quantum of businesses require support and we shape the offer around that figure.
“Based on everything we know right now across the UK it will enable us to maintain the most generous package of support for businesses anywhere in the UK.”
Sector Specific Grant
Mr Skates said the £180m Sector Specific Grant has had more than 8,000 applications and he added: “We’ve been able to deposit millions of pounds from that fund in businesses that applied early.”
He added: “That is going to benefit the last majority of businesses within the sector across Wales.
“Here in North Wales that fund is particularly important given the prevalence of the sector. North Wales to a great degree is pretty unique in the United Kingdom in that it is a region that has a particular reliance on tourism and hospitality, not just on the coastal area but inland as well.”
With money still available they are keeping the application process open for longer to make sure as many businesses as possible benefit from it.
‘Willing to listen’
He added: “Then if we do not spend the amount we allocated to it then we’ll be seeking to try to utilise that money again for business support.
“We are always willing to listen to businesses and employer organisations, trade unions and local authorities in regard to how we can best support people to remain in employment and having the best support for businesses at this time.
“Further support will be dependent on what the UK Government might do. We’re not going to jump the gun on the UK Government because there may be an announcement, there may not be, about an extension of the Job Retention Scheme.
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“We sincerely hope there will be, we’ve written to the chancellor asking for that.
“If there is then we can, in future rounds of support, shape our support around what the UK Government’s responsible for and what the UK Government is doing.
Compliment not duplicate
“If decisions are made not to offer up support for sectors or for particular groups that have fallen through the gaps then again we would attempt to address those concerns with support from Welsh Government.
“Our role all along has been to compliment, not duplicate what the Uk Government has been offering to make sure we give the best and most comprehensive package of support for businesses in Wales.”
He praised the contact that was taking place between business and economy ministers and officials in all the administrations in the UK because he said “people want to see their politicians working together where there is a common challenge that we face”.
He said: “Constructive relationships leads to constructive outcomes and there are instances I can point to where UK Government has changed policy as a result of a constructive working relationship ministers there have with us, like the work with CBILS.”
He said Welsh Government support has ensured they have kept 125,000 people in employment and helped keep Wales’s unemployment level (4.6%) below the Uk average (5%) despite so many sectors in Wales being “so exposed”.
He added: “Ultimately what we want to do is protect jobs. It is jobs, jobs, jobs as far as we are concerned.
“We want to prevent people from experiencing the long term scarring effects of unemployment.
“We are still striving to protect every viable businesses that we can.
“We have lost businesses, we have lost businesses in part because they’ve fallen through the gaps but also because we’ve seen an acceleration of change that was already underway.
“The transition taking place on the high street, to a significant degree coronavirus has accelerated the move towards online retail.
“We had to be there first and foremost to support sustainable businesses, businesses that would survive in ordinary times.
“We knew back then we were already going through a tremendous period of change.”
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