LAST week, the Chancellor announced the budget for the UK Government in the coming year.

A key issue for Powys businesses is that he noted that progress was being made on a growth deal for Mid Wales in his speech. This proposed deal has the potential to unlock further growth and investment for Powys and Mid Wales, and we hope to see the government working in consultation with businesses in Mid Wales to do so.

Powys is home to a dynamic SME community – as a business owner in Newtown this is something that I am proud to be a part of. FSB Wales’ recent report Going Solo: Understanding Self-Employment in Wales shows that Powys has the highest proportion of the workforce in self-employment of anywhere in Wales. Whilst the Wales average for the proportion of people in self-employment is 13 per cent, the proportion of people that are self-employed in Powys is 23 per cent.

Any growth deal would have to include establishing and improving upon the building blocks of a growing economy. Transport infrastructure and digital connectivity are just two of the issues raised by our members time and time again. We must be able to move towards having good and consistent Wi-Fi and mobile phone coverage in Mid Wales, as well as ensuring that transport infrastructure is upgraded so that this area of Wales is further unlocked for small businesses who seek to travel around Mid Wales.

Earlier this year, FSB Wales called for a Rural Taskforce which would manage a Rural Challenge Fund. This fund would be aimed at supporting local projects designed to help rural businesses diversify and expand. This could be a key component of a growth deal.

We hope to see the UK Government working with businesses to deliver growth for Mid Wales.

Nick Evans, Powys FSB chair