Wales politics

More help for companies after Tata problems, say parties

Tata steelworks in Port Talbot Image copyright Getty Images

Wales needs to rethink the help it offers to companies based here as the plight of Port Talbot steelworks remains uncertain, say spokespeople of the main political parties.

They discussed the issue as Tata Steel prepares to start the formal process of selling its UK plants on Monday.

During a debate on Sunday Politics Wales, spokespeople gave their thoughts ahead of the assembly elections.

Their views varied on help that could be offered to companies.

Plaid Cymru's Adam Price said the same strategy for helping companies that was used in the 1970s and 80s is still seen, with governments giving grant aid.

He said politicians should instead work more closely with companies, management and the workforce to "come up with a sustainable long-term solution".

"More creative"

UKIP's Sam Gould said the hands of governments are tied to a certain degree, with EU state aid rules limiting the amount of help they could give to companies in financial trouble such as Tata.

He added EU procurement rules also prevented governments from having a preference for using Welsh steel in projects.

The 21st Century Schools programme has seen £2bn invested in infrastructure in Wales, said Labour's Eluned Morgan.

"We've got to use procurement as a tool to really build companies within Wales. We need to be more creative," she said.

The Liberal Democrat's Eluned Parrott said many of Wales' most economically deprived areas are not in the south east and there should be a "slightly broader" stance on infrastructure investment.

She said government needs to ensure that people and goods can move freely around different areas of Wales.

Conservative David Melding said business rates need to be reduced, with training and support provided to help small and medium-sized businesses.

He also believes more should be done to "look after" companies that come to Wales, while the country should be marketed better to draw further investment.

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