Wales politics

Cameron says more in work in Wales, as economy slows

Prime Minister David Cameron says there are reasons to be positive about prospects for Wales as growth figures show the UK economy has slowed.

Mr Cameron spoke on a visit to south Wales as statistics show Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.2% between April and June.

He said 31,000 more people were in work in Wales than a year ago.

But First Minister Carwyn Jones blamed UK government policies for stalling growth.

Tuesday's visit came two weeks after the prime minister chaired his cabinet's first meeting in Wales when he also addressed Assembly Members in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

The economy grew by 0.5% in the previous three months, but contracted by 0.5% in the last three months of 2010.

The slowdown was partly due to the extra bank holiday in April.

The ONS said growth was slowed by some one-off factors such as warm weather and the effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Speaking at a training centre in Caerphilly, he said: "Here in Wales there are 31,000 more people in work so there are jobs and vacancies available.

"I'm not saying it's easy. Of course it's never easy, but if you give people the skills and the confidence and the help there are jobs, they can work and that's good for them."

He added: "I think we should be positive because the economy is growing and Britain is growing and more people are in work than a year ago.

'Very uncertain world'

"Clearly we are, if you like, some stability in a very uncertain world."

Chancellor George Osborne's plan to cut the deficit had the "100% backing of the prime minister and No 10 Downing Street", he said.

"I don't think you've seen in recent years a prime minister and chancellor work as closely together as George Osborne and I do."

Asked if the UK government had a plan B for the economy, he said: "The point is you've got to have a plan A that you make work and that is what we are doing.

"The reason we are not in the mess that Greece is in is because we have a plan."

Mr Jones, who was holding his cabinet's first full meeting in north Wales on Tuesday, said: "These figures clearly show the UK economy is still very weak.

"It shows that the level of GDP is only slightly higher than it was in the third quarter of 2010 meaning that the UK economy has effectively stalled over the last nine months.

"This underlines the impact the UK Government's spending cuts are having on the country's ability to emerge from the global economic and financial crisis."

'Precarious situation'

He said the Welsh Government was committed to working with UK ministers. He cited the announcement of a £15m scheme to help 4,000 young people in north Wales at risk of falling out of education as an example of his administration's determination to create opportunities for private sector growth.

"While we are committed to getting people into jobs, and trying to keep people in their jobs, the UK government's decision to cut public sector jobs in Wales severely undermines our efforts," the first minister added.

Robert Lloyd Griffiths, director of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Wales, said: "We're not back in recession but with numbers like these it might feel as though we are. As I travel around Wales, IoD members tell me the situation remains precarious and uncertain."

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Jonathan Edwards said: "Normally at this stage after a recession we would witness a robust economic recovery.

"The uncertainties in the global economy mean that the Treasury should be investing to stimulate economic activity at home."

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