ONE of the greatest barriers to economic growth and small business expansion in Wales is the difficulty in accessing finance.

Small businesses make up 99% of all active enterprises in Wales.

They are the lifeblood of our economy, but unfortunately too many of them are currently struggling. Wales has the second highest vacancy rate for high streets in the UK, while business confidence is at a low.

Small businesses are critical to our nation’s economic fortunes. If we can empower small businesses with the resources they require to invest in new facilities and equipment, we can help them to expand and create the new jobs that our economy needs.

The Welsh Conservatives have recently unveiled some ambitious proposals to overhaul access to finance and enable small businesses to borrow money from a new investment bank, called Invest Wales, run in partnership with a high street bank.

Invest Wales would operate locally in Welsh communities and be accessible to small businesses in every part of Wales.

We hope that the current Labour-run Welsh government will listen favourably to our proposals and take swift action to help our small businesses thrive and prosper.

PAUL DAVIES AM Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Finance