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The challenges for Wales

Now that summer holidays are just a recent memory, although hopefully a good one as it was for me, it is time to knuckle down and address the pressing issues of the day.

Martin Warren
The recent Business Confidence survey amongst members does not make easy reading for Wales with few businesses taking advantage of the, probably short term, benefits of the low pound to export and confidence continuing to fall.  It is taking a long time for the reality of Brexit to become clear which will not help in the coming months. Westminster continues to delay triggering Article 50 and arguments rage around what might or might not be possible under any new trade arrangements with the European Single Market.

The First Minister is trying hard to promote Wales and to fight our corner but uncertainty remains about the replacement of the financial support that Wales has been receiving from the EU. The longer term ability for Wales to fund business support, jobs growth and infrastructure development is therefore under threat. 
As the Wales Bill progresses through Parliament the prospect of devolved powers for income tax becomes more real and the importance of a clear funding methodology for Wales becomes more and more essential. It will be pointless if not damaging to Wales if the result of these powers is a reduction in Barnett which negates or even exceeds the taxes raised. 

With austerity still required to bite and a Westminster Government concentrating all its efforts upon dealing with Brexit can we really expect that Wales will get a fair hearing and fair treatment going forward? The Barnett formula requires major surgery if not replacement to recognise more devolved powers, taxes raised by devolved governments and the replacement of the historic European financial support. 

History isn’t on our side particularly with parties of different colours in power at Westminster and Cardiff but perhaps the new administration under Prime Minister May will be different. Let us hope so!