Maintaining and supporting business confidence in the economy as the negotiations around Brexit continue is imperative. However, a recent FSB survey showed a steep decline in business confidence in Wales and across the rest of the UK as we move into the New Year. Whereas Brexit is only one factor which leads to this sentiment, it’s nevertheless the case that the sluggish pace of the negotiations and uncertainty over the likely deal with cause some caution among businesses whatever the possible opportunities post-Brexit.

This uncertainty and the likelihood of a changed landscape is why it’s important that we have an early conversation about how we can best prepare our businesses and the wider economy for a post-Brexit world.

FSB Wales has therefore warmly welcomed the announcement by the First Minister of the £50million transition fund to support organisations move towards this changed state and capitalise on new opportunities. However, detail about the proposed use of the fund has been hard to come by either on the day of the announcement or in the days since.

During the debate within the Senedd recently, the First Minister admitted that given the uncertainty over the final outcome of the negotiations, how all of this money will be used is similarly uncertain. However, it’s important that we consider now, what this could be used for and indeed what it should not be used for.

Key to the impact and success of this fund is a clear engagement with SMEs to identify need and demand. It is disappointing that so little, if any consultation has taken place with business ahead of the announcement of this fund but the Welsh Government now has an opportunity to right that wrong and ensure that businesses are better able to capitalise on what lies ahead.

Nick Evans, FSB Powys branch chair