Working Together: How Consulting with Business Is Vital for Economic Growth; Compensate Small Business for Roadwork Impact, Says FSB Election Manifesto

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THE organisation that speaks for nearly 99% of all businesses in Wales has outlined its vision for local government policy in the run-up to May's council elections.

In a manifesto for the elections, the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales has identified key areas it says councils can help small businesses to thrive.

Among the policies it wants introduced are rates relief if business is disrupted by road repair works and subsidised retail units in all new developments.

Subsidising some retail units would ensure the diversity of small businesses to prevent the effect of clone towns, the FSB said.

The business group also wants more incentives to encourage companies to reduce their carbon footprint.

And it has called for "clear communication" between councils and businesses to be made a priority for councillors elected on May 1.

Janet Jones, chairwoman of the FSB in Wales, said: "If consultation is undertaken at an early stage with businesses on a range of issues, it can ensure that money is allocated in the most efficient way and that the right services are being provided even with scarce resources.

"Our manifesto for these elections, which we are sending to candidates and key council officers, outlines a number of recommendations we would like to see councillors fully sign up to when they have been elected on May 1."

Ms Jones said there should be more dialogue between councils and business.

She said: "We would like to see increased practical business support for SMEs. Currently SMEs are only allocated seven hours of pre-start-up advice and seven hours post-start-up advice with a business adviser.

"Businesses should be given the opportunity to strategically review business plans with a business adviser at the crucial 18-month growth stage and beyond.

"We also would like to see improved strategic planning of business units to ensure they are located where needed, with more affordable units in town centres and high streets, complemented by good public transport access and parking for customers.

"And it is important that there is improved allocation of business support funds, by use of soft loans based on business plans for investment, rather than one-size-fits-all, one-off, start-up grants. …