Election 2015

Election 2015: Number crunching over Welsh economy

Image caption There are claims of growth but do the numbers add up?

Election pundits and politicians are already playing the numbers game ahead of polling on 7 May. The campaign will inevitably involve a debate on how the economy is performing in Wales and the wider UK in the coming weeks.

And after voters have their say, there may be a different type of number-crunching at Westminster.

I visited a company in Wrexham where numbers are the game all the time. The House Nameplate Company was established as a family business nearly 30 years ago and is now part of the Timpson retail group.

I spoke to Tina Smith, managing director and engraver Dave Povah about how they saw the general election:

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Media captionTina Smith, managing director, wants the parties to promise funding will be available for firms to invest and grow

INVESTMENT AND GROWTH

Tina Smith said the firm had to be "inventive and creative" and look for different products and markets during the recession. But things had been stable in recent years.

"We noticed a real pick-up in the lead up to the end of last year and that's been sustained into the spring," said Tina.

"There's still a way to go but there's more positivity in the consumer.

"We're not about essential products to buy but we're seeing an upturn in sales so that suggest to me there is some impetus in economy and that people have more disposable incomes to improve their homes."

Policy guide: Economy

This issue includes the wider economy and deficit reduction but also employment and the role of business.

She wants stability and as she looks to double the size of the business, wants the government to make funding available for investment.

Tina welcomed the Jobs Growth Wales programme, which she said had a really worked for her business.

It pays for firms to take on 16 to 24 year olds temporarily and invest in their training, with a view to permanent jobs. It is a Labour policy from the Welsh government.

But Tina wants to look at the policies of all parties on specifics for business growth before she decides which way to vote in the Westminster election.

Image caption A recent Institute of Welsh Affairs report said Wales would need an 'economic miracle' to match the growth in the rest of the UK

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats claim there is recovery and growth in Wales.

Do the numbers back that up?

Wales' GVA - the value of what we make and do - increased faster than almost anywhere else in the UK last year. But we are still at the bottom of the pile. GVA is just 72% of the UK average. And disposable income?

The signs are that it is up a little in Wales.

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Media captionDave Povah wants to see higher wages for skilled workers and those in emergency services

JOBS AND WAGES

Dave Povah was helped into full-time work two years ago under Jobs Growth Wales, while working part-time in a pub.

He also believes the economy is picking up.

Unemployment in Wales now stands at 6.2% - above the UK average - but there are more people in work here than in 2010.

"Most of my friends are working now, there are two or three maybe looking," said Dave. "There were fewer jobs years ago and I went six to eight months sending out applications and getting nothing back."

He is to vote for the first time - not having confidence in the parties before - but is not 100% sure which way yet.

Dave sees the importance of paying off the deficit but would more importantly like to see higher wages for skilled workers and those working in essential jobs, such as in hospitals, fire and police.

Image copyright BBC/ONS/Thinkstock
Image caption The TUC took ONS figures for a table of earnings, as well as a map of UK earnings per week

And the numbers here? The TUC claims wages have fallen in real terms by £40 a week in Wales over this parliament - something Plaid and Labour will be keen to exploit.

But Labour will not want to portray the Welsh economy as entirely broken.

UKIP, meanwhile, claims it could cut the deficit more effectively than anyone else.

So it is not just in Wrexham where you can find the numbers being worked. Expect to be bombarded with more over the next few weeks, whether over tax, benefits or debt.

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