Wales politics

Enterprise zones a waste of money, Welsh Tories claim

Ebbw Vale Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An enterprise zone in Ebbw Vale, pictured, has seen a total of £94m spent over five years

A row has broken out after Welsh Government said Wales' eight enterprise zones had seen £221m of public investment since 2012.

The Tories called the zones "subsidy farms", saying it amounts to £20,656 per job created, safeguarded or assisted in Wales' enterprise zones.

But a spokesman for Economy Secretary Ken Skates said the Tories interpreted the figures in a "cynical way".

Some 10,700 jobs were created or supported over five years.

The figures - provided to the assembly's economy committee - include cash spent on infrastructure projects that have benefited firms in the enterprise zones, according to Mr Skates' spokesman.

Wales enterprise zones were set up by the Welsh Government to provide business support including financial help.

Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies said: "Labour's enterprise zones could be the biggest waste of public money in the devolved era, costing hundreds of millions - with very little to show for the money.

"Some of the zones have been absolutely disastrous, supporting only a handful of jobs."

He said the figures pile pressure on the "already beleaguered" Mr Skates.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Snowdonia enterprise zone includes the site around the decommissioned Trawsfynydd nuclear plant

The figures given to the committee showed that between 2012 and 2017:

  • £6.39m of public money was spent at the Anglesey zone, with 1,034 jobs created, safeguarded or assisted
  • £13.8m was spent at Cardiff Airport and St Athan, with 222.6 jobs created, safeguarded or assisted
  • £61.9m was spent at the Cardiff Central enterprise zone, with 1,854.9 jobs created, safeguarded or assisted
  • £29m was spent at the Deeside zone, with 6,014 jobs created, safeguarded or assisted
  • £94m was spent at the Ebbw Vale zone, with 390 jobs created, safeguarded or assisted
  • £9.3m was spent at the Milford Haven Waterway zone, with 1,113.5 jobs created, safeguarded and assisted

A total of £3.7m was spent at the Port Talbot enterprise zone in 2016/17, with 57.5 jobs created, safeguarded and assisted.

Meanwhile £2.1m was spent in the Snowdonia enterprise zone between 2014 and 2017, with 20 jobs created, safeguarded and assisted.

Mr Skates' spokesman said: "The Welsh Conservatives have presented our figures in a misleading and misrepresentative way.

"The total figures include investments we have made in dozens of major infrastructure projects across Wales - such as the A465 dualling programme, the Llangefni Link Road, the Cardiff Bay link road, the dualling of the A40 and the Ebbw Vale rail extension and new station - that have directly benefitted businesses within the zones.

"The Welsh Conservatives should welcome the fact that our Enterprise Zones have attracted considerable private sector investment and secured over 10,000 jobs since 2012."

Responding to claims of being misleading with the figures, a Welsh Tory spokesman said: "The Welsh Government's failure to disclose the number of new jobs created by these zones has created a misleading impression of their success.

"Come clean - how many new jobs?"

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