only a third of businesses know they're in flagship Cardiff enterprise zone
Concerns have been raised over the effectiveness of the Welsh Government’s Enterprise Zones policy to stimulate businesses – after its own survey revealed less than a third of Cardiff firms knew they were in one.
A government-commissioned “longitudinal survey” of businesses also found only 53% perceived that being located within one of Wales’ seven Enterprise Zone “adds value or brings benefits to their business”, but only 32% in the flagship capital zone were aware they were in one.
Seven out of 10 Welsh businesses were aware that they were located within an Enterprise Zone, according to the study, but it also revealed widespread lack of awareness among businesses about support, with just one in five aware of the recently-launched Finance Wales preferential loans and the Superfast Cymru broadband rollout. Just under half were aware of business support schemes in place for businesses in the zones.
Opposition parties said the results cast doubt on the policy’s effectiveness, following on from cross-party criticism of the policy in a report from the Finance Committee, which found too little is known about what is being done in the seven enterprise zones, which encompass Anglesey, Central Cardiff, Deeside, Ebbw Vale, Haven Waterway, Snowdonia and St Athan-Cardiff Airport.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies pointed to the Cardiff results in his criticism of the policy, saying only six businesses had located there since it was launched – three of which were already based in the capital.
He said: “This is yet more evidence that enterprise zones are failing to deliver here in Wales. There is so much potential for the zones and yet they remain shrouded in mystery, with most businesses in the flagship Cardiff Zone unaware that they are even located in one.”
Lib Dem enterprise spokeswoman Eluned Parrott said the Cardiff figure would be “worrying at the best of times” but worse when the zones were “built around” multi-billion pound firms such as Lloyds Bank, Network Rail, Eversheds, British Gas and ING Direct who between them employ thousands of people.
She said: “These are not small shopkeepers and takeaways these are big serious players in the business world and less than one in three of them know that they are located in one of the government’s flagship Enterprise Zones. These zones were originally announced over two and a half years ago, yet knowledge of people who need to know, who should know and critically who can benefit from this knowledge is laughable at best. Cardiff, in particular, should be a hive of construction 2.5 years after the original announcement yet barely anything has happened.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said it had already started a campaign to raise awareness among business in the Cardiff zone. She added: “The survey also found that 72% of respondents said the impact of benefits of the Enterprise Zone on their business had been positive, and a third of businesses had created new jobs in the last 12 months.”